Contributor: Benjamin Steiner
It has been over 18 months since Valérie Grenier prepared for a FIS World Cup race, but the 23-year-old finally returned to full training recently with the Canadian Alpine Ski Team in Stelvio, Italy.
Grenier was injured in a crash in a downhill training run at the Audi 2019 FIS World Championships in Are, Sweden, fracturing her right tibia, fibula and right ankle, abruptly ending her 2018-19 season, and forcing her out of competition last season.
For someone who has been skiing their whole life, it was strange to not be on snow most days. “It was really strange at first, and it was hard at the beginning because I thought my injury was going to be simple, and that sorta put me down,” said Grenier from her cottage in Ontario, where she is completing her mandatory 14 day quarantine after recently retruning home from Europe.
Although in being forced away from snow and training for a period of time, there were some aspects of the time off that the Ottawa, ON native was able to take advantage of.
“Once I accepted that I was not going to race last season, I really took the time to focus on little issues in the gym and on snow, I changed a lot of things that I’ve wanted to change for a long time.”
Grenier returned to snow last season at Mont-Tremblant, QC, but not having to focus on racing was strange, yet beneficial.
Being away from the everyday routine of being with her teammates was the part she missed the most. Grenier was able to go to the 2019 World Cup races in Killington,VT, which was the highlight of her year away, but the experience was still a far cry from racing.
While the camaraderie of her teammates is something she missed, having a break from the lifestyle of living out of a suitcase across Europe was welcome. “I missed travelling, but it was somewhat nice because I wasn’t packing and repacking all the time, it can get tough always living in hotels.”
No skier ever wants to be forced away from the sport, but for Grenier, a 2018 Olympian, returning to training with her team felt even more special at the latest camp. “I really missed all the girls, we’re really close,” she said, “I’m so happy to be preparing to race again, just being back is awesome, I’m really grateful for it.”
Now back in Canada, Grenier is undergoing the mandatory 14-day quarantine, but is doing so at a cottage in Ontario with teammate Laurence St-Germain. “It’s really the perfect situation, we have a lot of space, we have an outdoor gym area and we’re having fun together, it’s not that bad.”
After over a year away from on-snow training, Valérie Grenier was ecstatic to return to the team this summer, and even though there is uncertainty surrounding the 2020-21 FIS World Cup season, the fact that she is preparing for races has her hopeful and excited.