Slalom ace White set to retire at Sport Chek Alpine Canadian Championships
WHISTLER, B.C. — Slalom ace and 2010 Olympian Trevor White is hoping to bring his ski racing career to a close by standing on the podium at the Sport Chek Alpine Canadian Championships on Wednesday.
The 28-year-old from Calgary, Alta., will retire from the sport after he competes in his final slalom race of the season at the national championships in Whistler, B.C.
“To go out as Canadian champion or something – I think that would be great,” said White, who has been a member of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team since 2004 but spent much of this season battling injuries. “Even though it is my last race I’d like to go out with a bang.
“I think it’s time and I can’t think of a better place to do it than Canadian championships, racing with the peers I grew up skiing with.”
White made his World Cup debut in Kitzbuehel, Austria, in 2008, and had a career-best eighth-place result there a year later.
“I think I was 23 when I raced my first World Cup in Kitzbuehel. I had just come back from an ACL injury and you’re kind of unsure if you’re going to get back to a high level,” White said. “It was phenomenal – coming down in front of 40,000 people.
“Another highlight would be the following year, in 2009, when I came eighth there. That was my first top 10. First time in the points. First time making prize money. That was kind of that first time where you secure yourself on the World Cup and you know why you’re there. You’re not just there to participate, you’re there to compete.”
White, who grew up skiing at Fortress Mountain and was a student at the National Sports School in Calgary, went on to represent Canada in slalom at the 2010 Olympics.
“That’s every kid’s dream. Going into it I didn’t realize how big of a deal it was,” said White, who also competed in two world championships. “To say you’re an Olympian – that’s earned and it’s something that’s very special and that will be with me forever.
“My parents were ski instructors. My brother and I grew up on the mountain and he was a ski racer. It wasn’t until I competed at Whistler Cup – that’s sort of when I made the decision this was something I wanted to do full time.
“Then when I first made the national team and realized you can actually make a living doing this – it started that transition of it being more of a job than something you just love to do.
Every kid wants to compete in the Olympics but it was never a goal of mine in skiing until I found out the Olympics was coming to Vancouver. I realized it was real – it was attainable. For my family to take part in that was a big deal and to do it here in Canada was incredible.”
White says retired slalom great Thomas Grandi was one of the biggest influences on his career.
“Being a technical skier, I kind of looked up to him,” White said. “I think he paved the way for (teammates) Mike Janyk, Pat Biggs, myself, Ryan Semple, Julien Cousineau – a lot of the tech skiers in the last decade – him and Jean-Philippe Roy.
“When I made the national team Thomas was still racing. When he came back after retirement, being able to room with him and pick his brain for advice, that really made a difference in my career.”
White has had to deal with several injuries throughout his career, but that wasn’t the main factor behind his decision to retire.
“I’ve had three concussions, three knee surgeries and another knee injury this year. I’m skiing through a lot of pain all the time,” White said. “The big thing, though, is that I’ve just sort of lost that fire. I don’t feel I can compete at the level that’s needed. I’m still a great skier. I still love training; I love working hard. But I get in the start gate and I just don’t have that same desire to go as fast possible as I once did or what’s needed to be competitive.
“Once you come to that realization there’s no point in doing it. You’re there to participate and not there to compete. I love the sport still, but I’m no longer competitive at the level I want to be at so it’s time to move on.”
Canadian Alpine Ski Team coach Peter Rybarik, who worked closely with White when he was on the Alberta Ski Team as well as the national development team, said White’s athletic ability stood out right away.
“Any sport he tried he would probably succeed in,” Rybarik said. “My role was to push his limits and help him develop his skills. I was never easy on him but he was an athlete who never complained. He always just did his job.
“He went through a lot of ups and downs in his career but he always fought back. He believed in himself. I was very happy when he was successful on the World Cup – it was like all the ups and downs were worth it.
“It’s a little bit sad to see him leave but I’m also happy for him and I’m pretty sure we will see him around – he’s already helping a lot of the young kids. People love him so whatever he does, I know he will be successful. I wish him all the best.”
White has a passion for coffee and wine and is looking at training to be a barista and a sommelier.
“The last five or six years I’ve been importing wine from the different places we travel. I’ll always have four or five bottles in my bag on the way home,” said White, who also plays the guitar and often jams with his teammate Jan Hudec back in Calgary. “I’m really into wine, coffee, scotch – those finer things.
“I’d like to get into that business, whether it’s opening my own place or getting into that industry. I think I should gain as much experience as I can. I’d eventually like to open my own café or restaurant.”
White is planning to enroll in a BCom program at Royal Rhodes University in Victoria, B.C., where he’ll also be able to indulge in his passion for surfing. He says the thing he’ll miss most about ski racing is his teammates.
“I’ve skied with these guys for 10-15 years. You see them more than you see your own family. I’ll miss that but we’ll be friends for life,” said White, who often rooms with fellow Calgarian Brad Spence. “I’ve known Brad since I was 10. But all of them – they’re all great guys.”
Spence said his teammate’s ability to stay calm in the midst of a storm had a positive effect on his fellow athletes.
“As a teammate Trevor brought a ton to the team. He has a pretty fun-loving personality and was often able to make a stressful situation less stressful,” Spence said. “When we were gearing up for the Olympics in Vancouver, to see how he was able to focus for his races and training and then still being able to enjoy himself off the hill . . . As much as he was a teammate and competitor, he was always a friend as well, which is a tough thing to do in an individual sport. I will miss him as a buddy and a travel companion and as a singer-songwriter! He’s an unbelievable musician.”
Spence, also a slalom specialist, said White’s dedication and work ethic will transfer over into whatever he decides to do after ski racing.
“Trevor’s always had these grand plans and he’s such a people person I know he will do well,” Spence said. “As a skier he was such an athlete – probably one of the most talented athletes I know from a strength and physiological standpoint. For being one of the smaller guys on the World Cup circuit he has unbelievable strength and agility. He was a soccer player when he was younger and he’s so nimble.”
White said he hasn’t met all of the goals he set for himself in ski racing but he will leave the sport with his head held high.
“A lot of people have said you just don’t want to leave with any regrets and I think that’s impossible. I think it’s part of learning and it’s part of the process. In a sport like skiing you’re always going to have regrets,” said White, who hopes to stay involved in ski racing in some capacity, possibly as a part-time coach.
“I wish I would have finished this run or gone to that camp. I leave not accomplishing everything I set out to do. I wanted to podium – I wanted to be in the top 10 in the world. But I did reach a high level. I did compete in the Olympics.
“I think everyone will walk away saying there was always more on the table but I’m satisfied. I’m happy – I’m still proud of everything I’ve done.”
Source: Alpine Canada