A couple of young Whistler Mountain Ski Club (WMSC) alumni had their competitive season delayed when inclement weather forced the cancellation of the men's giant slalom at Soelden, Austria last month.
However, Jack Crawford and Brodie Seger are eager for a speedier start with downhill and super-G races this Saturday and Sunday in Lake Louise, Alta.
Seger, speaking from Lake Louise on Nov. 20, said he's fully reset after the disappointment of Soelden's cancellation. He trained for two weeks at Nakiska before a change of scenery to Panorama.
"I'm feeling pretty good," he said. "It was really high-quality training and I think everybody is skiing at a really high level and we've benefitted from the opportunity to train with our World Cup group, as well as the Austrians and Swiss, over the last couple of weeks.
"Everybody is skiing pretty well and we're excited to see how things go over the next few weeks now that it's time to put it to the test."
Crawford, speaking from Calgary on Nov. 15, wasn't quite as keen on the snow-quality he'd seen to that point, but was still satisfied with what he and his teammates were able to accomplish in advance of this weekend's races.
"We were training with the Austrians and had some good comparisons to them, so I'm personally feeling quite ready for the race. Maybe a couple more days won't hurt on the slopes, but we're definitely as prepared as we can be."
Crawford said while it was a letdown not to race in Austria, he was pleased to have qualified for the race and will hope those skills carry over.
"It definitely was disappointing at the time because Brodie Seger and I both stayed an extra week there to race the event when the rest of our team came home to have time off with their families and loved ones," he said. "It definitely is a kick in the butt when you stay all that time for this big race and all of a sudden, it was for nothing. Still, it brings confidence that we made the race and hopefully we can bring that confidence into Lake Louise."
Seger, meanwhile, said enough time has passed since Austria that he's readjusted his focus to the rest of the campaign.
"It's a bit of a strange feeling," he said. "It's so far behind me and we had a whole prep series in the middle.
"It was definitely a huge disappointment because I was very optimistic going into that race even though the weather was not looking positive. But we've been able to hit the reset button with two weeks of training in between, and the focus has shifted because we've been speed training and getting ready for the next few weeks."
Other Canadians racing this weekend are fellow WMSC alum Manny Osborne-Paradis, Benjamin Thomsen, Erik Guay, Dustin Cook, Jeff Read and Sam Mulligan. Whistler's Broderick Thompson was originally set to race, but suffered a season-ending knee injury during training last week.
Along with Seger and Crawford, Read and Mulligan are among the next generation of Canadian skiers set to take over the team from veterans like Guay, who is set to retire at season's end.
Calgary's Read, for one, is excited to get into action this weekend.
"It's been long and I'm itching to race here. I'm really excited to ski and what's to come," he said.
Grouse Mountain Ski Club alum Sam Mulligan, a regular competitor in Whistler, said this weekend will be one of the greatest opportunities for the young Canadians to make a mark this season.
"We ski here more than a lot of people because of the NorAms and touring in the past," he said. "Most of the downhill tracks, you get to once a year and do maybe two or three runs on it. The guys who are older have way more experience because they go year after year.
After Lake Louise, the crew will be heading to Beaver Creek, Colo. before a Christmas break. In that time off, however, several of the younger World Cup and development team skiers from the Sea to Sky will host a fundraiser on Dec. 27 at Buffalo Bills to help cover the season's costs amid declining funding.
"Hopefully that can produce enough money for the team and maybe bring in a few people who want to be more a part of ski racing. It's definitely going to be a fun event," Crawford said. "It's definitely an issue, but our whole team is trying to keep it out of mind and still keep our eye on the prize because winning is the best form of fundraising.
"Once all of our races are over, we're hoping to come back to reality and hopefully make a little money for the team and have a strong rest of the season, rather than just a strong start."
Seger said the skiers are also hoping the event creates a stronger connection between themselves and the community. He added that while he's looking forward to it, it has been difficult to try to coordinate it alongside preparing for World Cup races.
"This is the first time any of us have had to deal with that, trying to organize an event while we are trying to focus on training and racing," he said. "You have to find a way to compartmentalize and stay focused on your job because at the end of the day, that's going to make the biggest difference."
This weekend, the men's downhill is slated to run on Nov. 24 at 11:15 a.m. while the super-G will go Nov. 25 at 11 a.m.
The women will compete the following weekend on Dec. 1 and 2.