Marie-Michèle Gagnon: “I’m starting to get tired of 4th, 5th and 6th places”
Canadian tech specialist Marie-Michèle Gagnon finished 6th in the 2014 season slalom standings, crowning her best season so far, which also included her maiden World Cup win in the super combined in Altenmarkt/Zauchensee. She also took 6th in the Slalom Opening in Levi (FIN) two weeks ago, and is clearly looking for more as the season goes on. Her next chance will come this weekend in Aspen where the ladies’ season continues with a pair of tech races.
The Levi result bodes well for the rest of the season, don't you think?
My 6th place in Levi is a solid start for sure. It definitely leaves me hungry for more though…I'm starting to get tired of the 4th, 5th and 6th place, though they are still strong performances, I believe I've got more than that.
You had your 3rd shoulder injury in Sölden, has it healed completely?
I've now dislocated my shoulder three times. It is healed completely right now, but I have to keep doing a lot of strengthening exercises to prevent it from coming out again. It's not bothersome in the least though right now! Also, I will have to wear a brace in GS and speed events to protect it in case of crashes.
Last season was your best so far, including your first World Cup win. Will you continue to focus on tech or also race super-G and the combined?
I will mainly focus on tech, but will still take part in a few super-Gs and all super combined races this season. After last season, I felt like focusing more time on the tech side would bring me closer to the top steps.
In terms of goals, what is more important for you, the World Cup or perhaps a medal at the World Champs in Vail-Beaver Creek 2015?
Tough choice! Those all sound great! It is more prestigious to get a World Champs medal, but I really don't focus on that type of goal. I just try to execute by best skiing in the race and have just enough risk to perform at my best. Naturally the result comes with it!
You've had a chance to test the Raptor course and also race on Birds of Prey, where the GS will be held at the Worlds; how do you like those?
First of all, the snow conditions are always so amazing in Beaver Creek, that dry hero snow is my favorite!
The Raptor is very technical for the speed events, which can be good for a tech skier. Birds of Prey's GS is a sweet hill; it has a nice flow. It's also my favorite race to watch on the men’s side.
You have been spending a lot of time in the US this year, is it starting to feel like a second home for you?
I've really enjoyed spending the summer in Tahoe; it's a beautiful area! It really is one of the best training grounds for professional athletes with all the surrounding mountains, bike trails and water access. Plus, it's literally always sunny!! It is starting to feel like my home for sure now that Travis and I bought a house there.
But I would speak for most Canadians by saying that the US feels homey to all of us. It's similar to Canada in many ways, but especially with English being the spoken language here. We don't get that same feeling often racing in Europe.
The Canadian ladies team on the tech side seems to be a very close-knit group. How does the team work together?
We are indeed all very close, the sisterhood of the travelling skis! Ah! We all get along very well and it's definitely a special group. We have a lot of fun together. Everyone has something to bring to this team that makes it so unique. Most people are surprised when they hear we even all spend our vacations together - haha!!
Skiing is not such a major sport in Canada but you now have a sponsor on your helmet; what would help to get more fans for skiing in Canada?
Yeah, we are working on that…unfortunately hockey seems to be overtaking any other winter sport in Canada. We do have a great ski fan base in Canada, but it's difficult to keep the flame alive when the Canadian broadcast don't show many races on TV. As far as sponsors go, I've got Osisko who is willing to help me out for one more year…but it's a tough world out there for athletes looking for major sponsors.
What would help getting more fans in Canada would be to start by showing those races on TV every weekend, just like they do in Europe. That way, people get to follow your career from day one and go through the ups and downs with you. Right now, they only show clips of us when we do well.
Courtesy of Organizing Committee of Vail-Beaver Creek 2015