The race was once again in doubt, but the men's downhill and super-G season will get underway next week at Lake Louise, and some of Whistler's promising young skiers are ready to make their mark.
Broderick Thompson, Brodie Seger and Jack Crawford will all race for Canada's senior team next week, with Crawford competing in just his second race in the FIS World Cup, and Seger making his inaugural appearance.
"I was pretty disappointed when (the race) got cancelled last year and I definitely am looking forward to having my first World Cup start come on home soil," said Seger. "I'm glad to hear it's all good."
The 2016 men's World Cup races were cancelled due to lack of snow, and this year's decision was extended a few days, until it was announced that Lake Louise had achieved a positive snow control on Nov. 13, confirming the races would begin on Nov. 25, with training running from the 22 to 24.
With the course good to go, members of the WMSC can turn their attention to the upcoming World Cup season, and accomplishing their respective goals for the speed events in Lake Louise. For Seger and Crawford, they'll compete with the best in Super-G, but they'll have to qualify for downhill through a time trial.
"We're both really excited to get an opportunity at the next level and take a shot at the best competition," said Seger. "We're both really looking forward to it. We both believe we have what it takes, we just have to put it together on the right day."
Thompson will make his third World Cup appearance at Lake Louise. He's had great success on this course in the past, winning the downhill National Championships there last December. But in two years racing in Alberta against the more elite competition of the World Cup circuit, he's yet to crack the top-50. This year, he has a clear objective in mind.
"The goal is to try and push into the top-30 and have a little more consistency throughout the year," said Thompson. "I need to respect the process for each race, take it step-by-step, start with the first one and when I'm finished, move on to the next one."
All of the racers understand how important a top-30 finish is on the World Cup circuit, even the ones just breaking through.
"That's the only thing that really matters, earning some World Cup points and making some money as well," said Seger. "Obviously, part of it is about gaining experience, but I'm going to be looking for top-30 finishes for sure."
During this season, top finishes are especially rewarding for young racers. Anyone 25 or under with a pair of top-30 finishes between now and Jan. 16 could represent Canada at next year's Olympics in Pyeongchang, under the Category II Qualification, "Potential Future Medalist." Thompson understands that the odds aren't in favour of someone his age, but he knows his time will come soon.
"I'm still pretty young for the sport. Twenty-three is when a lot of people start to break through," said Thompson. "I've had a strong offseason and I'm looking forward to pushing out of the gate. I just want to do my best pretty much."
"Ever since I was five years old, it's been my dream to get to the Olympics and compete for Canada, it would be cool, it will happen one day, so I'm just going to take it step by step."
The alpine team is finishing up the last bit of on-snow training at Copper Mountain in Colorado this week before heading to Alberta. This was the first time Seger and Crawford, who had spent the summer training with coach John Kucera and the development team, got to ski with the veteran group. Seger has learned a lot over the offseason, and knows what he needs to do to improve this year.
"The more I can continue to improve on my attack on race day and being able to ski on race day the same way I do in training all the time, then I think everything else will take care of itself," said Seger. "That's one thing I worked on last season and if I keep working on that, I'll be in a good spot."
Seger has raced at Lake Louise a handful of times in the past, including finishing 10th in the Nor-Am Cup two years ago. Crawford finished eighth that same year, his best finish in a downhill event there.