In pursuit of Olympic dreams
Hard work. Dedication. Passion.
These qualities are used to describe many types of people. Egg farmers for instance, (or any farmer, really). You don’t farm for generations without those qualities. But these words can also be used to describe world class athletes and St. Isidore’s own Valérie Grenier, is both.
Valérie grew up on her family’s third generation egg farm and at only one and a half years old, started down a path that would eventually land her a spot competing to represent Canada at the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang.
We asked the member of the Canadian Alpine Ski team a few questions about her goals, training, and just exactly what it takes to fulfill her Olympic aspirations!
How long have you been training as an alpine skier?
“My parents put me in my first ski boots at 1.5 years old! It was the end of the winter, and they let me try on my brother’s equipment for a couple runs. When it was time to take the stuff off, I started bawling my eyes out because I didn’t want to stop, so I think it’s safe to say I’ve been in love with the sport since day one!
After that, I was put in ski lessons in Mont-Tremblant, Québec until I started competing at 7 years old. I loved it and kept improving every year, so I made the Équipe de la Division Laurentienne de Ski team at 13 years old, then the Québec team when I was 16, then Canadian Development Team the following year, and now I’m on the national World Cup team since 2015!”
How many hours a week do you train? What are some of the exercises you do in the gym and on the hills? What is your favourite training activity?
“If we’re on a ski camp, we will usually ski for about 5 hours, depending on the day, and then have dry land in the afternoon, which can be for 1 to 1.5 hours. What we do in the gym will be a lot of lower body strength and power work, like squats, cleans, hamstrings exercises and then a core/upper body circuit. We’ll also do shuttles (either on the track or on a bike) after those sessions. Then we’ve got lots of sport specific exercises, which is a lot of balance work that puts us in the same position as skiing. We also do long bike rides, Pilates and mobility. On the hill, I like to do some exercises that will warm up my back and glutes. My favorite training activity is mountain biking, since it’s a great workout, and gives me the same kind of adrenaline as skiing, especially on the downhills, while having to visualize the line I’m about to take, just like ski racing!”
What do you typically eat when you’re training? How many calories/day?
“When I am training, I will typically start my day with overnight oats (oats, almond milk, banana, greek yogurt, chia seeds, cinnamon, topped with flax seed & hemp hearts), then I love having an omelette for lunch (2 eggs, spinach, peppers, onion, tomatoes, goat or feta cheese, topped with avocado & salsa), snack on fruits, veggies and nuts during the day, and dinner will be a good source of protein, with healthy carbs and lots of veggies (for example; oven roasted salmon, baked sweet potato “fries” & asparagus). I can’t say that I’ve ever counted calories, but it must add up to around 1800-2000 calories, depending on what I’m doing that day.”
What is your go-to pre or post workout food?
“I love to eat avocado toast (1 slice of toasted bread, topped with mashed avocado & 2 fried eggs) before a workout, and a good post-workout food I enjoy is a rice cake, topped with almond butter and banana slices.”
As a member of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team, I can only assume you have your sights set on the Olympics. What do you have to do if you want to qualify?
(Your schedule shows 5 different competitions between now and the new year, how well do you need to do at each? Is it based on points? Do points carry over between competitions?)
“I definitely want to go to the Olympics! There are a couple different ways to qualify; some of the criteria is 2 top 12s or many top 30s in World Cups for me as a younger athlete. You could say I have already qualified with my top 30s last season, but I have to get some of those results the year of the Olympics!”
Who is your favourite person to compete against? Who pushes you the most?
“I loved competing against my brother growing up. I always looked up to him and wanted to be as good as him. The person that’s always pushed me the most is my dad. He is a very competitive person, and his favorite saying is: “the pain is in the brain!” I always keep that in mind when I’m struggling during a tough workout!”
What is the one piece of advice you’ve been given that has really motivated you through your skiing career?
“The best piece of advice I’ve been given was to always get back up, whether that’s figuratively or literally. We all have bad races or even bad falls, and it’s easy to give up when things are not going your way. But it’s the athletes that push through and fight back that will make it to the top!”