Calgary, Alta. (May 3, 2018) – Erin Latimer (Toronto, Ont.) and Jack Leitch (Calgary, Alt.), members of the Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team have announced their official retirement from Alpine Canada.
Latimer’s ski career began at the age of two at Craigleith Ski Club in Collingwood, Ont. Born with a congenital amputation of her right arm below the elbow, Latimer spent the early years of her ski racing career in the able-body program with her sister and her cousins. Latimer transitioned to para-alpine racing when she made the Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team in 2014. Since then, the 21-year-old has been bringing success and a bubbly attitude to the program.
During her time with the team, Latimer competed at two Paralympic Games (Sochi in 2014 and PyeongChang in 2018), which she says are the most memorable part of her career.
“Competing at two Paralympic Games were the highlights of my career,” Latimer said. “Having the opportunity to represent Canada is something I’ll never forget.”
Latimer’s consistency as a top-ten racer shone at her first Paralympic Games where she achieved a top-ten finish in four disciplines (super combined, slalom, giant slalom and super-G). At the 2018 Paralympic Games, Latimer captured four more top-ten results, including a sixth-place in the downhill.
She also made her mark on the IPC World Cup circuit, with a breakthrough season in 2016-17 picking up six medals. These marked the first IPC World Cup podiums of her career. It was her best season, finishing the season ranked third overall in both giant slalom and super combined.
For Latimer, the Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team was about more than just results. “I will remember my teammates, coaches, staff and all the memories we’ve made around the world over the past four years,” said Latimer. “I am very grateful for my time with the team. I have learned so much from ski racing and all the people I’ve met along the way. I will definitely miss it as I start the next chapter of my life.”
“It’s been a privilege to watch Erin grow into a strong young women during her time on the team,” said Matt Hallat, Athletic Director, Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team. “Her positive attitude, maturity and leadership helped propel the group forward and I have no doubt it will continue to help her throughout the rest of her life.”
Next up for Latimer, she will be returning to the University of Toronto to finish her ungraduated degree in Social Sciences. She’ll start by taking micro and macroeconomics through the summer and will start fulltime classes in September.
Calgary, Alta.’s Jack Leitch will also be stepping away from team. Leitch, 21-years-old, joined the team in 2016 as the guide for Mac Marcoux. Leitch, a former Alberta provincial ski team athlete, joined the Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team with a strong alpine background and as a confident racer. Right from the onset, Leitch and Marcoux gelled as a unit, finding rhythm, trust and success on the IPC World Cup circuit. The duo skied to immediate success, capturing four gold medals and a silver medal at the 2017 World Para-Alpine Skiing Championships.
“Trust is the greatest element to success in a guide/athlete relationship and building it takes time,” said Hallat. “It’s incredible to reflect on just how quickly Mac learned to trust Jack, his skiing ability, his calm demeanor and his leadership. This helped the Mac/Jack combination become a fierce duo. They never lost a downhill race in their time racing together."
At the 2018 Paralympic Games, they continued their success winning gold in downhill and bronze in giant slalom. This became Leitch’s most memorable moment of his time with the team. “Although I only spent two seasons with the team, it’s hard to pick just one highlight moment,” said Leitch. “But I would say that standing on top of the Paralympic podium in South Korea, representing Canada at the 2018 Paralympic Games, was a huge honour. The feeling of winning gold in the downhill is something I can’t put into words. It’s a memory I’ll have forever.”
They capped off their final season together by winning the IPC Crystal Globe in super-G, downhill and the overall. Marcoux believes his friendship with Leitch helped them to be so successful on the hill.
“I never would have thought that having Jack stepping in as my guide two years ago would have led to such a great friendship,” said Marcoux.
To Leitch, Marcoux says, “Together we've accomplished some amazing things. Because of you I can say that we are four-time World Champions, Paralympic gold and bronze medalists, and have two Crystal Globe downhill overall titles. You've been one heck of a teammate and an awesome addition to the Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team over the last two years. I know that whatever the future brings your way, you'll make an adventure out of it. I'm gonna miss you bud!”
While the team spends hours and hours on snow each season, many of the lasting memories are made in-between racing.
“A lot of the memories that will stick with me are from off the hill,” said Leitch. “We shared some great experiences with the whole team. Whether we were having a team game of ultimate Frisbee or just a few of us hanging around the hotel, great bonds were formed. The team dynamic between coaches and athletes was unlike anything I’d experienced before. A true balance of professionalism and friendship. I had an amazing time, some great results and most importantly, made some great friends!”
Leitch’s exact plans for the future are still somewhat up-in-the air but he plans to attend University and pursue a Business Commerce degree on the west coast.
“As the Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team we seek to perform at the highest levels of our sport and we push our athletes to achieve beyond their capabilities are on daily basis,” said Hallat. “Both Latimer and Leitch have been able to do this during their time on the team. While we aspire to medal success, we recognize the greatest lessons in sport have nothing to do with results sheets. We’re proud to have been a part of Erin and Jack’s journey and are excited to see where they go next.”
Alpine Canada and the Canadian Para-Alpine Team wishes Latimer and Leitch the best of luck in whatever the future holds. Thank you for your dedication, passion and proudly representing this organization and your country.
ABOUT ALPINE CANADA
Alpine Canada is the national governing body for alpine, para-alpine and ski cross racing in Canada. With the support of valued corporate partners along with the Government of Canada, Own the Podium and the Canadian Olympic Committee, Alpine Canada develops Olympic, Paralympic, world championship and World Cup medallists to stimulate visibility, inspiration and growth in the ski community.