Calgary, Alta. (September 29, 2016) – Para-alpine Crystal Globe winner and Paralympic medalist, Mac Marcoux, burst onto the IPC World Cup scene in 2013 as a 15-year-old and has been dominating ever since. Marcoux captured Paralympic gold and two bronze at the 2014 Sochi Paralympic Games and took home the downhill and super G Crystal Globes last season. Skiing in the visually impaired category, Mac relies on a guide to help navigate him through training and race courses. Using a specialized helmet mounted microphone system, Marcoux and his guide ski in tandem through the course, reaching speeds of up to 120km/hr.
In the course of his career, Marcoux has used two guides: his brother, BJ Marcoux, and Robin Fémy during the 2014 Sochi Paralympic Games. After the 2015-16 season, BJ retired from his role as Mac’s guide, which was filled this summer by Alberta Ski Team alumni, Jack Leitch.
We caught up with the new duo to learn what it takes to bring a new guide up to speed and what their goals are for the season ahead.
Alpine Canada: When working with a new guide, what are some challenges you face?
Mac Marcoux: Working with a new guide is always a little challenging. Between the selection process and the first couple of days on snow, it’s about compatibility and personality. It’s important to be able to have a guide that you can enjoy spending day after day with, while working productively together. Trust is also a major factor when working with a new guide. Trusting a new guide to be “your eyes” is crucial in being able to push yourself forward.
Alpine Canada: How are you feeling after your first training camp in Valle Nevado, Chile with Jack?
Mac Marcoux: It has been awesome working with Jack! There is no doubt that he is a wicked fast skier but he is also a very controlled and smart in the way he skies. Having never guided before, he has picked up the communication aspect of guiding and has made it very easy for me to follow him with confidence. His confidence on his skis and his ability to relay course information, along with his great personality, on and off the hill, has made it very easy for me to trust him and feel confident while following his lead. I am getting pretty excited for the upcoming season and stoked to see how our skiing progresses over the next few months of training together before the first race.
Alpine Canada: What will you be working on from now until your first race?
Mac Marcoux: From now until our first races, the main focus is going to be getting in millage together. The more we ski, the more confidence we gain and the more we are able to connect heading into race season.
Alpine Canada: What are your goals for the season?
Mac Marcoux: Jack and I are coming into this season with an open mind. Looking forward to the race season, the goal is to be more consistent in tech races and defend last year’s Crystal Globes in downhill and super G.
INTRODUCING JACK LEITCH
Birthday: June 2, 1996
Home Ski Club: Banff Alpine Racers/Calgary Alpine Race Club
Alpine Canada: What interested you about working with the Canadian Para Alpine Ski Team and working as a guide for Mac?
Jack Leitch: The offer to help out a great guy achieve his goals, while traveling the world, seemed like a pretty awesome gig. It’s a great opportunity to live my passion for skiing daily and help someone pursue a dream.
Alpine Canada: How is racing as a guide different than racing solo?
Jack Leitch: As a guide, you not only have to worry about your own skiing, but you have to make sure you are relaying all the necessary information back to Mac so that he can ski his best. While I’m taking in all the visual cues from the track, like the snow conditions, course set, etc., I need to connect with Mac to ensure he has all the same information I do so that he can put his trust in me to ski at his very best.
Alpine Canada: What have you and Mac been doing to build your connection to ensure you’re working together as best as possible?
Jack Leitch: Something we call, ‘time on task.’ This essentially means, the more time on snow we have together, the better and more consistent our communication gets. It’s also been really important to build a friendship. This helps with honest communication to ensure we are always on the same page.
Alpine Canada: How are you feeling coming out of your first Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team camp?
Jack Leitch: I’m feeling very welcomed and accepted within the team. They are such a great group of athletes and staff. As far as on snow training goes, I think Mac and are working really well together and feeling confident about heading into the season.
For more information on para-alpine ski racing, check out this Alpine Canada video or follow along with Mac’s journey on his Instagram account.