Name: Erik Read
Team: Canadian Alpine Ski Team
Meet Erik Read: A talented technical skier on the Canadian Alpine Ski Team, who just finished a phenomenal break out season on the World Cup circuit. Not only did Erik capture four top-ten results on the technical circuit, he also achieved this while attending the Univeristy of Denver and graduating with a 4.0 grade point average. Learn more about this talented and dedicated athlete below.
You are a few credits away from graduating from the University of Denver with a business degree. Why did you decide to pursue a degree while simultaneously skiing on the World Cup circuit?
Every year I have been on the national team I was taking spring classes, chipping away at an education because I believe it’s valuable. I want to be successful in my ski racing career, but I also know that it’s important to consider a life after racing. I had an incredible opportunity to attend the University of Denver and had the support of the national team. I watched Trevor [Philp] successfully obtain a degree and race on the World Cup circuit, so I really believed I could make both work. I’m glad I did it because it allowed me to find balance.
In the 2016-17 season, you skied to four personal best finishes and secured four top-ten finishes in slalom, giant slalom and alpine combined – a feat that has not been accomplished by a Canadian male tech racer for several years. What would you attribute your success to?
Two years ago was the first time I really felt like I belonged on the World Cup circuit. Going into last season, I knew what I wanted to accomplish with my equipment, mental performance, technical abilities, and physical performance. It was a culmination of these details that were put into motion to find success on the World Cup circuit. Heading into last season, I was more attuned to what was required of a World Cup racer to be successful and I had the ability to fight for results race after race. I’m proud of the results I achieved this season.
In the 2017-18 season you’ll be able to fully focus on the World Cup circuit. What are your goals for the upcoming season?
I went into last season with a goal of achieving top 30 finishes. Having achieved that, I’d like to push my goal to be top 15 in the world in giant slalom and slalom at the end of the season.
This year I had a few top-three runs so I don’t think it’s unreasonable to shoot for the podium. I’m also looking ahead to the 2018 Games. Having never been to a Games before, I know it will be an eye-opening experience. My goal is to be competitive because I know how important the Olympics are for Canadian sport.
For many, skiing on the World Cup circuit and being competitive is a full-time job. You managed to achieve a 4.0 grade point average at the same time. Do you believe pursuing both simultaneously was an asset to your ski career?
Yes, I believe it was asset to both my academic and athletic career to juggle both. You’re faced with adversity in both realms and being able to take a step back and focus on something else, allowed me to regroup and bring back that energy to either school or skiing.
Every November I wrapped up exams, and it was at that time that I always felt most excited to ski and channel my energy back to the hill. I always came out of the exam period skiing my best and able to find the energy and passion back on my skis.
What is your favourite memory of last season?
Definitely racing Kitzbuhël in Austria. There is so much history at that venue.
This year the track was… just gnarly! They really prepped it in a way that challenged all the World Cup skiers. To be able to charge the second run and sit in the leaderbox for 15 racers, until [Marcel] Hirscher came down and knocked me out, was a moment I’ll never forget. Hearing the crowd chant my name was a surreal experience.
I hiked the hill in the summer and I believe the familiarity with the terrain really paid off.
How will you be preparing over the summer for the upcoming season?
This summer I’ll really be focusing on strength and conditioning. I want to be at the highest physical fitness level I’ve ever achieved.
The second part of the season preparation will be two long on-snow camps. One will be in Switzerland and the other in New Zealand. This year it will be nice to take advantage of the fall block of training so that I’m fully prepared for the season opener in Sölden, Austria.
What is the most challenging part of being a technical racer?
I would say the travel schedule is the most challenging aspect. Technical racers often have only one day at a venue before race day, where speed skiers generally have a few days of training runs to settle in. Being on the World Cup circuit this season I really realized what it would take to be competitive in races while managing a tough travel schedule.
Last season we raced in Zagreb [Croatia] on Thursday and that night we drove to Ljubljana [Slovenia] and I jumped on a plane and flew to Zurich [Switzerland] and took a train to a doctor’s appointment in Bern, and then made it back to Adelboden [Switzerland] in time for the race on Saturday
This kind of travel schedule demonstrates what it’s like to be a tech racer on the World Cup circuit. We generally show up for one day of racing and then move onto the next venue.
What’s your favourite stop on the World Cup circuit?
Adelboden, Switzerland. The track has this final pitch that you break over and you can see the crowd at the bottom waving their red and white Swiss flags and ground drops away from you. Nothing else compares to this feeling in our sport. This year there was thick cloud cover over the track and you couldn’t see three gates in front you. Despite the poor visibility, the fans were incredible. There is so much culture and history there that it really makes you realize where ski racing sits in the hearts of Europeans.