Anna Goodman ready for new challenges

24 March 2012 17:48

MONT-SAINTE-ANNE, Canada – Canadian Slalom specialist Anna Goodman has decided to hang up her skis after a brilliant career in which she helped lead a new generation of female technical skiers to the top and showed great courage to realize her dream of competing at the Winter Olympic Games by racing on an injured knee.

The 26-year-old from Quebec, goes out on a high, having made a successful comeback from two serious injuries and established several personal best results during the course of the 2011-12 World Cup season – including finishing second-fastest in the second run of the Slalom in Ofterschwang, Germany, earlier this month.

Goodman blazed a trail as one of the top female slalom skiers in North America over the past five years and played a key role in mentoring rising stars Marie-Michele Gagnon and Erin Mielzynski. Gagnon celebrated claiming her first career World Cup podium earlier this month while Mielzynski recently became the first Canadian in over 40 years to win gold in a World Cup Slalom race.

“I’m very proud of my accomplishments during the nine years I spent with the team,” said Goodman, the daughter of former national team skier Russell Goodman. “I am especially proud of the leadership role that I played over the past five years in showing Canadian women and the Canadian ski establishment that we can compete at the very highest levels in Slalom. It is very satisfying to see where the women’s slalom team has come and how much it has evolved and improved since I scored my first World Cup points five years ago.”

“Also, racing at the Olympics on home soil with a torn ACL not only fulfilled a life-long dream, but also challenged me mentally and physically more than anything else in my career. I proved to myself that I could overcome almost anything through the hard work and determination it took to race with the injury, recover strongly from the surgery and ski fast upon my comeback.”

Goodman tore her ACL in January 2010, a month before the Winter Games in Vancouver. Her desire to compete at the Olympics was so strong that she decided to put off the surgery and do whatever it took to make it to the start gate. Goodman had a knee brace fitted and did her best to ski through the pain. 

“When she did her ACL she raced with a brace - she wasn’t 100 per cent,” said Hugues Ansermoz, head coach of the ladies’ team. “It takes a lot of courage to do that.”

Goodman finished 19th in slalom at the Olympics, an experience she describes as the highlight of her career.

“She got injured but it was always her dream to compete in the Olympics. She’s pretty bad-ass, racing with a (torn) knee,” Gagnon said of her teammate. “Having an Olympics at home – I don’t think she would have missed that for anything.”

Other career highlights include:

-Top five North American slalom skier for the past five years

-Five top-15 World Cup and world championship Slalom results, including a 12th-place finish in slalom at the 2009 World Championships in Val d’Isère, France

-Twenty-two top-25 World Cup, World Championship and Olympic Slalom results 

-2008 Nor-Am Cup Overall Slalom champion

-Fifteen Nor-Am Cup slalom podiums, including seven gold medals

Goodman takes comfort from the fact that she was able to come back from hip and knee injuries and have a solid World Cup season in 2011-12.

“My 57 World Cup points this season showed me that I could come back from two significant injuries and compete with the best,” Goodman said. “This year has seen many of my greatest moments; my fastest first run in a World Cup at Aspen where I came eighth with a start number of 44, followed by the second best result of my career when I came 11th at Courchevel, France. Then, a few weeks ago, I had a personal best single run at the Ofterschwang World Cup where I came in second in the second run.

“However, I now realize that it is time for me to move on to other challenges following the end of the current season. It has been an awesome journey.”

Mielzynski, who made history by winning gold in Ofterschwang, says she wouldn’t have made it to the podium without Goodman’s help.

“This year was the most fun year for me and it was because of Anna . . . I don’t think I could have done what I did this year without her,” Mielzynski said. “Most of the time in training we were tying or really close. Anna was a big part of that (gold medal) happening.”

“I’ve always looked up to Anna and the way she approaches things.”

Known for her adventurous spirit and positive, fun-loving attitude, Goodman has set her sights on attending university to study for a degree in business. She wants to stay involved in ski racing – possibly coaching young racers or setting up her own ski camp – while exploring some of her other passions, including photography. Goodman has many fond memories of life on the road as a ski racer.

“I became addicted to mountain biking, velodrome racing and any other bicycle sport,” she said of her time with the national team. “I created crazy funny videos of me and my teammates entertaining ourselves on the road. I learned how to rodel. I became a chef and creator of “Anna’s Banana Bread,” the healthiest, tastiest bread ever. I ate some form of chocolate and drank at least one cup of coffee every day for the past nine years.

“My teammates really made it a ton of fun to have a pretty stressful lifestyle,” Goodman added. “All of my best friends have been past teammates and present teammates. I’ve always been really close with everyone. That will be the hardest thing, to say goodbye.”

For Goodman’s teammates, the feeling is mutual.

“I feel like Anna is the one who brings us all together as a team,” said Marie-Pier Prefontaine, who was Goodman’s roommate last summer when the team centralized its dryland training program in and around Calgary.

“She’s the one who makes all the plans for us to do things together. If we go out to dinner, she’s the one who organizes everything. “

“I’m going to miss her a lot. We’ve been on the team together a long time and we’ve grown closer and closer together. She will always be a great friend.” Eve Routhier, another slalom specialist, is one of several young skiers on the national team who have benefitted from Goodman’s experience and know-how.

“Anna is a great teammate. She’s always happy, always in a good mood. Always fun to be around,” said Routhier, 23. “When I made it onto the team she was the one with the most experience. She was a great role model. When you go to your first World Cup and you don’t know where to go or what to do she was there to share her experience. I’m really grateful to her for that.”

Mielzynski remembers Goodman making a big first impression when they met several years ago. 

“One of the first times I met Anna was in Aspen,” Mielzynski said. “I told my mom she was one of the most genuinely nice people I had ever met.

“Now that I know her better, she’s the best teammate you could ever ask for. She always gets us doing fun things.”

Goodman’s final race as a national team skier is due to take place on Sunday when she competes in the Canadian Championships slalom in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Que. After the race she plans to make one final run down the slalom course as part of a special retirement ceremony. 

 

Goodman has been a member of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team since 2004. She made her World Cup debut that October in Sölden, Austria, at the age of 18.

“I had never seen someone with so much speed in slalom at that age,” Ansermoz said. “She was super fast.”

Goodman’s career-best result is a ninth-place finish in slalom in Are, Sweden, in December 2009. She seemed to be breaking through to the next level right around the time she hurt her knee at a World Cup race in Zagreb, Croatia, on Jan. 3, 2010.  

“She really started to get going before she was injured,” Ansermoz said. “She had knee surgery and then had problems with her hips. She came back well from both.

“She’s going to be missed, especially by the other girls. She pushed people like Mitch (Gagnon) and Erin to go faster. She’s very important for this group.” 

Technical head coach Jim Pollock, who has worked closely with Goodman for many years, described her as a “great team player” who played a key role in helping the ladies’ slalom team take such huge strides forward in recent years.

“She’s been a leader on the hill,” Pollock said. “She was one of the first women to start the slalom breakthrough for this team – getting top 30s, top 20s and a top 10. She spent a long time on the team and blazed a trail.

“She’s a very, very smart girl, a great teammate, a wonderful person to have around on the team. We are going to miss her terribly but she’s leaving on a good note.”

Courtesy of www.alpinecanada.org