Whistler's Stan Rey has already had a breakthrough season, cracking the top 30 in men's World Cup ski cross early on and improving literally from week to week until he managed a fourth place result in X Games.
Because of quota spots and the strength of the Canadian ski cross team he was left out of the World Championships, but was back in the hunt at a World Cup event at Ontario's Blue Mountain. He was on pace to make the semi-finals and the top-eight when he crashed hard, placing 14th and sustaining an injury that will leave him on the sidelines for the rest of the season.
While disappointed to be home so soon, Rey is already looking forward to next season.
"When I landed on my back at Blue I sprained my pelvis and partially tore both sides of my groin," he said. "The recovery is six to eight weeks, so I will be missing the rest of the World Cup season, unfortunately. This injury will not set me back at all - if anything it will make me more hungry to get after it when I'm all healed up."
The breakthrough at X Games showed Rey that he could compete with the best in world.
"Coming fourth at X Games was definitely the highlight of my season by far, even though I would have loved to come third," he said. "It's funny, because as an athlete you always want more. Personally, it showed me that I can beat some of the top guys, which gave me a huge confidence boost. I also learned not to get intimidated about who's in my heat because in the end you've got to ski your best to move on to the next heat. No point to put any extra pressure on yourself, it'll just make it harder."
Rey credits the strength of the Canadian team for the speed of his own development, including Chris Del Bosco - second at X Games, first at the world championships and first in the last two World Cup races this season. On the women's team, there's also Kelsey Serwa - X Games and World Champion, and winner of three consecutive World Cup races.
"Training and racing with these guys is fantastic, I've learned so much from them," he said. "Anything from the way they inspect the course and looking for passing zones to the way they work the terrain and rip off turns. I'm very fortunate to be part of one of the best teams in the world. It really helps when you're chasing down some of the best guys in the world."
Rey said he was nervous at the start of the season, but has calmed down as he's gained confidence.
Pique also asked Rey what people don't understand about his sport.
"I think a lot of people don't understand how the lane choice works," he explained. "It's all based on how you qualify. In each heat the best qualifier has the first lane choice, meaning he gets to pick which gate he wants to start off in and the last qualifier is left in the worst gate usually. The start is a huge part in winning heats, and sometimes some gates have huge advantages over others - the better you qualify, the better chance you have to do well on race day."