Murray keeping busy after retirement 

Former ski cross racer takes on new sponsor, approaches year anniversary as entrepreneur

click to enlarge new sponsor Julia Murray (pictured) and Davey Barr have signed on with Prior for the coming season.
  • new sponsor Julia Murray (pictured) and Davey Barr have signed on with Prior for the coming season.

Julia Murray is keeping it local for the upcoming ski season.

The 25-year-old, who retired from competitive ski cross in 2012 after competing in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, has teamed up with Prior for the upcoming winter season.

And she's not the only one — fellow national ski cross athlete Davey Barr is also making the switch to Prior.

Murray said she had known Prior founder and designer Chris Prior from around town, but decided to partner up fairly recently.

"It all started when Chris and Davey and I were having a barbecue on a barge this summer," chuckled Murray, the FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships silver medallist in ski cross in 2011. "(Prior) called us after and it seemed like he had a bit of an epiphany that all of us locals should team up."

Murray and Barr are both part of the Ski with an Olympian program, which runs out of Whistler Blackcomb and had formerly been with Atomic.

"I guide a lot, so hopefully I can get the word out about Prior to people that visit with us," she said. "I also love to tour and lots of big mountain skiing, so I can't wait to get on some Prior skis and represent something local."

Though retired from competition since 2012, Barr will still be sporting the skis on a major stage, serving as the assistant race director on the FIS Ski Cross World Cup tour. Barr raced on the circuit for a dozen years, winning a bronze medal at the FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships in 2009.

Prior sales and marketing co-ordinator Matt Dussault explained the company is taking a different tack in its approach, in that it's moving away from a slate loaded with athletes to a roster of "brand ambassadors," a range of influential people in the industry.

"With us changing up our athlete program, there was room for Davey and Julia, and (Prior) wanted to get them on board right away," he said. "They're looking to ski for fun and chase snow. With us being a local manufacturer and them both being raised in Whistler, it just makes sense to get them on product. They're going to be good representatives for our brand."

Prior initially launched 25 years ago in North Vancouver before moving to Function Junction in 2000.

Murray noted she's been "inspired" by Prior, especially given her own fledgling entrepreneurial career with Jules Fuel, a quinoa-based breakfast cereal. The product officially launched in January and is in over 30 stores in the Sea to Sky corridor and in Vancouver. She is working on getting the cereal into Thrifty Foods, which would nearly double her distribution. She is pondering auditioning for CBC's Dragons' Den to gain partners down the line.

Though the goals are grand, looking back, Murray has been happy with the first year.

"I wasn't totally sure what to expect. It's a whole new thing for me," Murray noted. "It has been a great start for me. The Whistler community has been a great test market because everyone here is so health-conscious."

She is also completing correspondence classes in holistic nutrition, where she is six months into a two-year program.

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