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Canada: 2024 Pre-Season notes

Canada’s 2024 WAWC front-line team will be fun and instructive

Canadian horse

to follow. Two grizzled veterans (27 and 29) are paired with sub-25s whose potential may be unmatched by any other roster. IG offers WAWC’s de rigueur happy gym rats; energetic dancers in race venue condos, a recipe (for food) requiring pineapple and garlic, and strangely-tailored overalls. They’re ripped, ready to RnR. I must ask, however:

O Canada, who is your Downhiller?

Through a confluence of specialized talent, retirements (particularly Marie-Michele Gagnon), injuries; perhaps coaching decisions and limited race/training opportunities, the Canadian WAWC A team, AFAICT, does not now have an in-form Downhill racer. Hopefully summer training changes this. The roster has copious Tech chops, especially SL; veteran and emerging 3/4D(iscipline) talent should prod the EOS Overall standing more forcefully than in recent years. Yet at least one of these women must fully embrace ski racing’s most thrilling contest.

Researching this complex group, I’m struck by how many different venues are visited to achieve the practice/experience necessary to determine who will do what during the WAWC season(s). Perhaps I’m noticing it more as I maneuver deeper into the FIS data, but the Canadians appear to rack up their starts from a wider range of race classifications than other teams do. They also drop and restart Disciplines, trying to determine/settle which best suit whose abilities.

It’s the most complicated team development situation I’ve so far seen—or at least have recognized. Injury recovery is playing a lead role, I think. The Canadian team’s coaches have an especially challenging job ahead, as their athletes are multi-talented. My initial take is that specialization may narrow the team’s potential. Top-heavy on SL. Develop GS wherever possible; Speed needs are obvious.

(Note: Pre-Season Team notes will profile 4 or 5 A-team members. Usually 2 veteran/prime year racers, and 2 folks (usually younger) who I think will improve/break out, or should rebound after a weak 2023 campaign. During the season I aim to discuss racers I omit here.)

Laurence St-Germain

Profiled in the 3 August Feature “Three In Their Prime,” St-Germain (turned 29 two months ago) can return to EOS SL T10 by cutting out the 2 or 3 DNFs which have consistently cost her. EOS SL 8th in 2021 (no DNFs) is within 2024/later reach with a couple of races near her 2023 Worlds SL gold level. Higher rank, obviously, with a couple of wins/podiums. Slalom’s her only event.

Valerie Grenier

Canada’s current best overall WAWC racer IMO, Valerie Grenier was pegged for greatness, I’d say, when she was 20 and laid down the 2016 Nor-Am record below. (DNFs denied a monster campaign.) On-track for perennial WAWC 3D(iscipline) EOS T8 at least, I bet. A badly-broken right leg in February 2019 kept her out of all competition until October 2020. She ran WAWC GS only for the 2021 season; resumed SG in 2023. Grenier’s run no WAWC DH since the accident, and no Nor-Am at all.

2018 (final) Nor-Am season, also cited here, was a beauty. She ran it concurrently with a two-thirds WAWC schedule on GS and Speed. 2018 was her transitional season: maintaining Nor-Am excellence while learning the WAWC ropes. 20 total starts; solid EOS results; summer training to sharpen/strengthen 3D skills. Oh man, Valerie was on her WAWC way autumn 2018—some DNFs, but 2xT5 SG and decent GS…at age 23. Then smashed leg during DH training in February; 2019 and 2020 were over and out.

2023 WAWC – EOS Overall 25th

GS 7th – 10 starts - 1st; 3d; 4xT10; 2xT20; 2xDNF/Q

SG 36th – 7 starts – 4xT25; 31st; 2xDNF

2022 WAWC – EOS 49th

GS 12th – 6 starts – 3xT10; 2xT15; DNF

2019 WAWC SL dropped; definitely GS & Speed the chosen program.

GS 28th – 6 starts – 11th; 2xT25; 3xDNF

SG 18th – 5 starts – 4th; 5th; 3xDNF

DH Unclassified - 5 starts – 4xT40; DNF (No EOS DH ranking, per no points scored.)

2018 Nor-Am – EOS 7th

GS 9th – 4 starts – 1st; 2x6th; DNF2 (6 WAWC 2018 GS starts for 2xT20; 25th; 3xDNF)

SG 3d – 3 starts – 3x1st (6 WAWC 2018 SG entries but just 3 starts for 1xT30; still learning big league.)

DH 16th – 1 start – 5th (5 WAWC 2018 DH entries; 3 starts for 1 finish 32nd. Ditto per above.)

2016 Nor-Am representative season EOS 2nd– 4D chops

SL 11th - 6 starts – 2nd; 2xT10; 3xDNF/Q

GS 4th - 6 starts – 1st; 4xT10; DNF

SG 7th - 4 starts – 2nd; 5th; 2xDNF

DH 2nd - 4 starts – 3x2nd ; 3d Smokin’ DH

Grenier turns 27 this October. Enough time to set/begin an aggressive prime trajectory. I’ll say for 2024 Valerie defends her EOS GS 7th, and will score SGEOS T15 as she regains those chops. Hopefully DH isn’t out of the picture. We won’t know for sure until first DH 18th/19th November at Zermatt. Or rather, I won’t know for sure. Summer training progress/results for athletes is available to me via reporting in publicly-accessible media, if it’s reported at all. I imagine teams keep everything but generic info under wraps, especially re injury recovery. I sense Valerie may run Nor-Am DH for another season or two, if at all. Solid and consistent GS & SG finishes will top the agenda through 2025. Then as prime arrives DH may ease back in. On the other hand, if Grenier handles SG well, why not go for DH too?

Long run, I think Valerie Grenier will peak with 3 or 4 EOS T6 divided between GS and Speed by 2027. An EOS podium would be a major break-out. Her Overall talent’s T10 all-time for Canada, I’d venture. 3-year injury set-back/recovery cycle and fierce competition are weakening her career stats. But if she stays healthy and really digs, EOS 2 x Podiums are plausible, IMO. And she’ll have at least one Olympics plus 3 x World Champs to rip high-visibility performances.

Cassidy Gray

Cass Gray, who turns 23 in January 2024, has top-rank 3/4D skills and off-the-charts enthusiasm. She won’t/can’t frown, loves hanging with her teammates, is a dynamo in the gym. AFAIK, except for missing the 2021 season’s first three WAWC GS meets and December events within other categories, she’s lost no relevant starts to injury. If there’s something else she could be doing, she wouldn’t be—ski racing is It.

I really sense Gray could become a respectable phenomenon: way-honed bubbly force of nature EOS 3DxT10 from 2027 through 2033 and the occasional EOS T4/better with a little bit o’ luck. If her competitive drive is as aggressive as her smile is luminous, Cass may truly break out. Canada’s most promising overall young WAWC talent, IMO.

Nor-Am 2022 and 2023 seasons. 14 WAWC total starts, strictly experimental. Cassidy’s being developed thoroughly/exclusively via Nor-Am. Team Canada opts for fallow Speed for a couple of seasons rather than throw kids into the breach. Admirable. Health comes first, with building confidence then a key consideration.

2023 Nor-Am EOS – Overall 2nd.

SL – 17th - 6 starts - 9th; 4xT15; 16th; DNF

GS – 1st – 8 starts – 2x1st; 2x2nd; 3xT5; DNF

SG – 9th- 3 starts – 2x4th; 7th

DH – 7th – 2 starts – 2nd; 5th.

2022 Nor-Am – Overall 15th

SL – 41st – 1 start 12th

GS – 11th – 4 starts 1st; 7th; 2xDNF

SG – 12th – 1 start – 2nd.

2021All starts across Categories. Fine example of hustling for experience. (Nor-Am cancelled for Covid, so start quest ranged far afield.)

WAWC 4xGS – 27th; 29th; 2xDNF/Q

World Champs 1xGS – 23d

National Champs 1xSL – 4th. 2xGS1st; 5th.

FIS 3xSL – 17th; 2xDNF. 3xGS1st; 2nd; 3d. 2xSG2x3d.

University 2xSL – 14th; 18th. 2xGS1st; DNF.

Took a cursory shot at WAWC GS: 2021 4 starts – 2xT30; 2xDNF. 2022 5 starts – 5xDNF/Q. 2023 5 starts – 5xDNF/Q. No harm having a taste.

FIS-level races. A step below Nor-Am. As I understand it, FIS races are organized/run by a ski area’s staff/racing club, to specifications allowing competitors’ results to count within the FIS’s international scoring system. Cass Gray has a mess of FIS starts between December 2017 to December 2023. Since she often raced FIS and Nor-Am concurrently, I split consolidated FIS results into 2018 to 2020 seasons (her most intensive FIS campaigns) and 2021-2023.

2018-2020 FIS results

SL – 25 starts – 4x1st; 3x2nd; 4x3d; 5xT10; 3xT20; 6xDNF

GS – 19 starts – 6x1st; 5x2nd; 3d; 5xT10; 11th; 45th

SG – 3 starts – 2x1st; 5th

DH - 0

2021-2023 FIS results

SL – 7 starts – 1st; 2x2nd; 1xT10; 1xT20; 2xDNF

GS – 11 starts – 5x1st; 2nd; 2x3d; 1xT10; 1xT20; DNF

SG – 4 starts – 2x1st; 2x3d

DH - 0

I think team will want her to go full-bore GS this season, and see how SG goes too. Hurt early in 2021 season; raced for UC Boulder. No Nor-Am 2021. So tempting to turn her loose 3D, but another season of Nor-Am and EC DH would be good. (Nor-Am late 2023; EC in Europe 2024.)

Cass will kick off WAWC as a seasoned 3/4-Discipline warrior. I figure she’ll drop SL, as St-Germain and Nullmeyer are solid/developing. Gray’s GS is excellent; Speed coming along nicely. She may be full-time 2024 WAWC in Tech, with another Nor-Am Speed campaign to tighten up? In any event, she’ll be WAWC full-time for 2025 season start and go until she wants to stop (hard to imagine) or gets hurt (won’t happen). At minimum, she’ll be perennial 3D T8+ contender 2027-2031.

Thoughts for 2024: if she runs full WAWC GS schedule she’ll make T25; T17 would be smashing. If full SL, which I really doubt, then T20/25 best. Full WAWC SG I don’t see either; I’ll say she’ll T15 1 of 3 or 4 starts. 2xT15 for full SG season, with maybe a T12. I think she’ll have an excellent WAWC launch, though not exceptionally fast off the mark. I sense she’s patient, appreciates/respects the competition.

Ali Nullmeyer

If Canada has an EOS SL podium within the next five years, it’ll be Ali Nullmeyer’s. Turning 25 August 2023. Solid WAWC EOS for her age; scorched 2017 Nor-Am as a teen. Then…both ACLs blown October 2017; OFS 2018 and measured return 2019—see results below. Man, the Canadian gals have gotten banged up.

Her Bachelors degree in Economics (Middlebury College) indicates Ali recognizes the future will occur, which many young people do not. (I didn’t give it much thought.) She’s dedicated to her athletic talent, and fully appreciates WAWC’s opportunity/challenge. There’s a bigger picture ahead, however; Nullmeyer will be equipped to size and frame it.

WAWC EOS SL full seasons

2023 SL 17th – 11 starts – 8xT20; 22nd; 2xDNF

2022 SL 11th – 9 starts – 3xT10; 3xT20; 3xDNF/Q

2021 SL 29th – 8 starts – 2xT20; 2xT30; 4xDNF/Q

2020 SL 33d - 7 starts – 2xT20; 5xDNQ

2020 Additional starts

University (Middlebury College) SL 4 starts – 2x1st; 2x2nd. GS 4 starts – 1st; 12th; 32nd; DNF

FIS GS 2 starts – 2x15th. Nor-Am GS 2 starts – 4th; 6th.

All over the world. Hectic schedule

2019 Recovery Year post-2018 double ACL

FIS – SL 3 starts 1st; 5th; 12th. GS 7 starts – 2nd; 3d; 10th; 28th.

FIS Jr. Worlds – SL DNF. GS 9th.

Nor-Am – 1 start SL 8th

WAWC – 2 starts SL/GS 2XDNQ

2018 OFS injured

NOR-AM EOS 2017 Overall 1st

SL 1st – 8 starts – 4x1st; 2xnd.

GS 2nd – 8 starts – 2x1st; 3xT10; 2xT15; DNF

SG 24th – 1 start – 3d

Amazing Nor-Am season. Both knees zonked that autumn. Residual effect? Will SG come back? Team/coaches’ strategy of allocating talent per Discipline must be hair-pulling/sleep-depriving.

SL only for Ali so far in WAWC, but GS potential per record. I think she’ll run 2024 full SL exclusively, to see where it takes her. Strong pairing with St-Germain. Then full GS added by 2026 as she approaches prime. I could be naïve—team may want her to develop GS earlier. And she may want to as well. But her SL is so promising. Same as for many folks, cut out DNFs and presto! EOS ranking improves a few spots.

I think Ali will 2024 EOS SL T9/11. She slipped last season, but should reclaim a handful of T10 finishes, cut down DNFs to 1, and steepen her trajectory to 2026 EOS SL T5/6. I think running GS would relieve some of the SL specialization pressure; the team may want to give another racer GS starts, since Ali’s SL outlook is so bright. In any event, it should be another 8-10 years before she needs to dust off her degree and confront the sloggy Adult world.

Britt Richardson

Another strong candidate for long-run success within Canada’s emerging talent. Superb GS; a solid Speed prospect whose SL may be dropped without debate because it’s considerably weaker. Won’t turn 21 until May, after 2024 season ends. No consequential injury, AFAICT. Perhaps a DH prospect along with Kiki Alexander and Sarah Bennett. Canadian Speed may be in decent shape after all—a full-on DH figure may emerge via natural selection. Within the next few years, at least. Immediate future on Grenier’s and perhaps Gray’s shoulders.

Nor-Am EOS – 2022 & 2023 only full seasons

2023 Overall 4th

SL 25th – 5 starts – 2x8th; 3xDNF

GS 2nd – 8 starts – 3x1st; 2x3d; 2xT10; DNF

SG 12th – 3 starts – 2x5th; DNF

DH 15th – 1 start – 3d

2022 Overall 6th (No DH)

SL 26th – 6 starts – 5xT20; DNF

GS 2nd – 7 starts – 2x1st; 2nd; 4th; 2x11th; DNF

SG 6th – 2 starts – 1st; 3d

FIS results – 2020 through 2022

2022 (No DH)

SL – 2 starts – 8th; 9th

GS – 2 starts – 1st; 3d

SG – 2 starts – 2x2nd

2021 (No DH)

SL – 8 starts – 3x1st; 3xT10; 2xDNF

GS – 11 starts – 4x1st; 2nd; 3d; 5xT10

SG – 3 starts – 2nd; 26th; 32nd. Odd…

2020 (No DH)

SL – 5 starts – 1st; 2nd; 3xT10

GS – 4 starts – 3x1st; 4th

SG – 3 starts – 3x1st

Very strong Nor-Am & FIS records. WAWC total starts Oct 2021 to Jan 2023 – 10xGS for 22nd; 24th; 7xDNQ; DNF. I say put Britt on European Cup Speed circuit next three seasons, then turn her loose on WAWC GS/Speed and see what happens. Nor-Am and NA FIS don’t have enough Speed events to develop talent in good order. For her age, Richardson’s standing deserves EC immersion. Send Bennett and/or Alexander too if recovered enough to compete.



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