Mastering More Than Just Ski Racing With Erik Read
Canada’s Erik Read is a man of many talents. In addition to breakout performances on the World Cup tour last season, Read also managed to graduate from the University of Denver (DU) with a 4.0 grade-point average, adding himself to the exclusive and growing list of athletes who have managed to combine World Cup ski careers with their goals in higher education.
With four top-10 finishes last season in slalom, giant slalom, and alpine combined, Read solidified himself as a rising force on tour and looks to progress even further into the elite ranks in the coming years.
“Two years ago was the first time I really felt like I belonged on the World Cup circuit,” he says in a recent interview with Alpine Canada. “Going into last season, I knew what I wanted to accomplish with my equipment, mental performance, technical abilities, and physical performance. It was a culmination of these details that were put into motion to find success on the World Cup circuit. Heading into last season, I was more attuned to what was required of a World Cup racer to be successful, and I had the ability to fight for results race after race. I’m proud of the results I achieved this season.”
Despite strong results in GS last season, Read narrowly missed qualifying for World Cup Finals in Aspen, Colo., and now has his sights set on not only the 2018 Finals but also attending his first Olympic Games when they roll into PyeongChang, South Korea, in February.
“I went into last season with a goal of achieving top-30 finishes,” he says. “Having achieved that, I’d like to push my goal to be top 15 in the world in giant slalom and slalom at the end of the season. This year I had a few top-three runs so I don’t think it’s unreasonable to shoot for the podium. I’m also looking ahead to the 2018 Games. Having never been to a Games before, I know it will be an eye-opening experience. My goal is to be competitive because I know how important the Olympics are for Canadian sport.”
Over the past few seasons, Read managed to follow in a select few racer’s footsteps and juggle World Cup racing with college academics at DU. Norwegian star Leif Kristian Haugen and Read’s compatriot Trevor Philp also managed to balance their academics at DU with World Cup careers.
“Every year I have been on the national team I was taking spring classes, chipping away at an education because I believe it’s valuable,” he explains. “I want to be successful in my ski racing career, but I also know that it’s important to consider a life after racing. I had an incredible opportunity to attend the University of Denver and had the support of the national team. I watched Trevor successfully obtain a degree and race on the World Cup circuit, so I really believed I could make both work. I’m glad I did it because it allowed me to find balance.”
“I believe it was an asset to both my academic and athletic career to juggle both,” he adds. “You’re faced with adversity in both realms and being able to take a step back and focus on something else, allowed me to regroup and bring back that energy to either school or skiing. Every November I wrapped up exams, and it was at that time that I always felt most excited to ski and channel my energy back to the hill. I always came out of the exam period skiing my best and able to find the energy and passion back on my skis.”
Despite his dual responsibilities as a student-athlete, Read says that the most challenging part of life as a World Cup tech skier isn’t always finding the time to get his schoolwork done, but rather it’s bouncing around the globe from race to race.
“I would say the travel schedule is the most challenging aspect,” he says. “Technical racers often have only one day at a venue before race day, where speed skiers generally have a few days of training runs to settle in. Being on the World Cup circuit this season I really realized what it would take to be competitive in races while managing a tough travel schedule.”
We’d say he’s starting to get the hang of this whole travel thing. Read joined his Canadian teammates in the gym this summer before getting back on snow in Switzerland and New Zealand. His World Cup season kicks off in October in Soelden, Austria.