By Vicki Hall, Calgary Herald CALGARY — They’re not about to change the name to the Calgary Cowboys, but the Canadian men’s alpine ski team has certainly found a home in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. Just three months removed from his World Cup overall win in super-G, Eric Guay is the latest Canadian Cowboy to settle in the Stampede City. At the end of the month, he’s moving with his young family to Calgary from Mont Tremblant, Que.
“It will be my little girl, my wife and myself,” Guay said Thursday before taking to the mat for mixed martial arts training in a Northeast Calgary gym. “My wife is actually from Alberta, so it will be good for her to be back home.”
The move is also designed to help Guay, 28, build on an incredible finish to the season that saw him hit the podium in three consecutive races. He won two of them. “Alpine Canada is based here,” Guay said. “So we’re already here a lot in Calgary. This way, I can see my family a lot more during the summer instead of going back and forth. “The team is based out here so we have so much more support with trainers, physiotherapists, eye doctors, medical doctors, dentists. Everything is based out of here, so it’s easy access.”
And that access promises to get even better. "They’re building that new training centre out at Canada Olympic Park,” he said. “It’s not ready yet, but I want to take advantage of that. “And the taxes are lower in Alberta.” Guay is the seventh member of the Canadian men’s national team to call Calgary home. John Kucera, the downhill world champion, Trevor White, and Brad Spence were all born in Calgary.
B.C.-born Manuel Osborne-Paradis and Robbie Dixon share a house in Calgary. Banff native Jan Hudec, the man of many knee surgeries, also lives nearby.
“A lot of the guys are starting to move to Calgary,” White said. “With the 1988 Olympics, we have just so many resources. We have the Canadian Sport Centre at the Oval, the Bob Niven Training Centre. Physios. Trainers. “In terms of training, this is the place to be. There’s just such a well-structured system for athletes.”
As part of that system, Alpine Canada is offering a training camp this week for national team members with a different twist. Canadian Ultimate fighter Nick “The Promise” Ring is forcing the skiers to cowboy up with mixed martial arts training not for the faint of heart. “Skiing is actually much worse than martial arts,” said Ring, who is battling back from knee surgery. “The forces they put on their legs at one time is just incredible.”
The good-natured rivalry between the skiers is evident from watching them on the mat. “They’re kicking each other in the elbows,” Ring said. “They’re all men, right? Any time there’s testosterone in the equation, things get out of hand. Always.”
Working his way back from a fractured tibia and fibula in his left leg, Kucera is thrilled to learn a new set of survival skills that might help him somewhere down the road. “They keep us under control,” he said. “As an injured person, I can’t go out there and start roundhouse kicking people with my bad leg. “It’s just a good workout and a good way to get extra rehab and extra work in a fun environment.”
Guay is sold on the idea of mixing things up
“The older I get, the more tired I am of just being in the gym and doing the rudimentary squats and lifts,” he said. “They’re the same every day, and we’ve been doing them for years. “This is a great way to do a different kind of workout that works a lot of different body parts.”
Back at home in Quebec, Guay’s Crystal Globe is hidden away in a cupboard before eventual transport to Calgary. To many skiers, the Crystal Globe actually ranks higher in prestige than an Olympic gold medal. Olympic gold is won in a day. The Crystal Globe is captured through excellence all season long. Which one means more to Guay? “I’ve been asked that question so many times, ”said Guay, who placed fifth in two speed events at the Vancouver Games. “Typically, I would probably take a Crystal Globe. But because the Olympics were at home in Canada — that’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. You would be royalty, right? “No one would every forget your name if you won a gold medal in Canada.’’
You can bet Guay’s new neighbours won’t forget his name once they realize who the guy is moving in next door.