Letter From Marie-Michèle Gagnon

“I have made the decision to retire from ski racing at the end of this season. The timing feels right. I have had amazing experiences and success beyond what a young ski racer from Mont-Orignal ever dreamed of achieving.  

I had no idea what I was getting into when I started ski racing. I had never watched it growing up, except for the Olympics every four years. I didn’t know what the threshold of my dreams should be besides trying to be the best skier in the world. My dreams started taking shape as I watched Mélanie Turgeon win gold at the World Championships in St-Moritz and then later on, watching my teammate Erik Guay win globes, world championship titles and basically everything there is to win in ski racing. I was so lucky to have had the greatest Canadian skier of all time to look up while I was coming up on the World Cup tour! 

Skiing started for me on the local slopes of Mont-Orignal, a small family ski area just south of Québec city. There was no ski racing background in my family. My siblings and I pioneered the way by joining the ski team at age 7. I instantly fell in love with the sport. I loved going fast and pushing my limits. I loved being outdoors and sharing the experience with a team who quickly became my friends. 

I am so fortunate that my love for ski racing turned into a career for the past 20+ years. I cherish so many moments including victories and great performances, and so much more. I have made lifelong friends along the way. I met and got to share this passion for ski racing with my life partner Travis Ganong and all of my amazing teammates and staff over the years. I got to share in making history with my teammates Erin Mielzynski and Valérie Grenier through historic wins for Canadian women. Both Erin and Valérie broke a 40+ year hiatus in Slalom and Giant Slalom while I got to be the first Canadian to ever win a Super Combined. What a special team to be a part of! 

I am proud to have had the chance to represent Canada at 3 Olympics, 8 World Championships and over 275 World cup starts. I don’t really like to dive into stats because there are so many memories that will always outlast them, like all the hotel room dance parties, the “out of this world” sunrises sitting atop the mountain, all the meals shared as a family on the road, the games that made us laugh until we cried, the days off playing tourists all over the world, all the physical training in the gym pushing ourselves until we just crumbled from fatigue and many more. If I had to choose one though, I have to say that one of my proudest accomplishments in the sport is to have achieved a top 5 finish in every single discipline at the World Cup level over my career. I began as a technical skier and then reinvented myself as a speed skier later on. My next dream was to achieve a top 3 finish in all of the disciplines, but I guess it’s good that the bar always keeps on moving up. 

From the ski club level all the way up to the national team, I have been blessed with incredible support throughout my entire career. Thank you to where it all started; Mont-Orignal, Skibec and to the Quebec ski team most notably. Those early experiences helped fuel my love for ski racing. 

A very special thank you to Alpine Canada for the 15 years together! Thank you for believing in me all those years.  

Thank you to all of my teammates over the years for pushing me to become a better skier and a better human. All the memories of our fun together on and off the slopes are what I will remember the most! And what I will miss the most. 

Another huge thank you to all of my personal sponsors and the team partners along the way who made this incredible journey possible.  

Lastly, the biggest and most deserved thank you to my parents and family whom without their support and sacrifices, this dream career would not have been possible. I am so thankful that we got to share this wonderful dream together. Je vous aime fort! 

Moving forward, I am not sure what is next just yet. I leave all possibilities open as I get to know Marie-Michèle, the non- ski racer. One thing is for sure, you will still see me sending it on the slopes, just not in my spandex!” 

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