Morgan Pridy knew what was at stake as he skied the super-G course at Kitzbühel, Austria, over the weekend.
So when he reached the finish with a time that would leave him solidly in the top 30 — a career-best finish, it would turn out — Pridy had reason to celebrate.
The Whistler skier's 21st-place result on Sunday, Jan. 26 at Kitzbühel came on the final day of the Olympic qualification window, and was enough to give him a berth on Canada's team headed to Sochi.
"When I crossed the finish line and saw my time and placing, I had a little celebration," Pridy said in an email to Pique. "Probably too much celebration for crossing in 18th, but I knew that it would hold up and that it was my ticket to the Games."
Pridy's selection to the team was made official on Monday, Jan. 27, and he'll join fellow Whistler Mountain Ski Club alums Mike Janyk and Manuel Osborne-Paradis in Sochi on the Canadian squad.
Pridy, 23, was eligible for an Olympic nomination through Alpine Canada's "young stars" criteria, meaning two top-30 finishes were enough to cement his place on the team. He had also secured a 24th-place result at Beaver Creek, Colo., earlier in the winter.
Earning a first trip to the Olympics would be special any way you slice it. But to do it at Kitzbühel — easily the biggest stop of the World Cup calendar and a place where Pridy had never raced before — was especially memorable.
"Kitzbühel has to be the coolest racing experience I've ever had," he said. "The atmosphere is like nothing I'd been a part of before, so that made it all the more special."
Pridy was the top Canadian in Sunday's super-G, though Jan Hudec also earned points by placing 28th in his return from injury.
Though Monday's team announcement was an exciting one for Pridy, it also meant disappointment for other Whistler skiers, including older brother Conrad, who was not selected for Sochi. However, the Pridys were never in direct competition with each other for an Olympic berth since Conrad was too old for "young stars" consideration. Morgan said that came as "a bit of a blessing."
"I had completely different criteria... and in all honesty, my criteria were much easier than his," he said. "So each race this year, I've been able to be at the bottom to cheer him on and truly hope that he placed ahead of me."
Morgan also noted that he and Conrad have been able to support each other well through the season — Morgan's first full year on the World Cup tour.
"The tracks in large part have been new to me but Conrad has raced a lot of them before, so in inspection he is always there to help me figure out where to be or to let me know what is fast," said Morgan.
"I get pretty bummed out after a bad race... but Conrad is always there to give me a little perspective and that helps a lot. I would like to think I am there for him in a similar fashion if he has a rough day."
The younger Pridy said the idea of calling himself an Olympian hasn't quite sunk in yet, and perhaps that's because there's another World Cup downhill coming up Saturday, Feb. 1 at St. Moritz, Switzerland, before the tour breaks for the Games. But when he gets to Sochi, Morgan said his approach wouldn't change much.
"I'm going to take it all in and experience every part of the Olympics I can," he said. "At the end of the day, though, this is still just another race and I have to go out and perform my very best. If I do that I will be fast, and if I'm fast, I'm happy."
JANYK LOCKS UP spot WITH SEASON-BEST
Janyk similarly earned his trip to Sochi in his final race of the qualifying period with a season-best result, placing 14th in the men's slalom held Friday, Jan. 24 at Kitzbühel. That gave him the two top-20 finishes he needed this season to guarantee a spot on the team and a third trip to the Games.
"It was cool to race knowing I needed that second top 20 but I didn't think about it while I was skiing," Janyk said in a release. "This is a very different (qualification route compared) to the last two Olympics and there's always a smile on my face to see how it all plays out."
The Kitzbühel course knocked out a few heavy hitters on Friday but Janyk skied well over difficult terrain to post his seventh-consecutive top-20 finish at the venue, known as "the Super Bowl of skiing."
Janyk was back in action on Tuesday, Jan. 28 for the night slalom at Schladming, Austria, but came up 0.25 seconds short of the top 30 and did not make the second run.
Hudec, Osborne-Paradis and Erik Guay had already been named to the men's Olympic squad, while Invermere's Ben Thomsen earned his spot with a 12th-place finish in Saturday's downhill at Kitzbühel. Phil Brown, Trevor Philp and Brad Spence were the others added to the team on Monday. The Canadian women's team will feature Marie-Michele Gagnon, Larisa Yurkiw, Elli Terwiel, Britt Phelan, Marie-Pier Prefontaine and Erin Mielzynski.
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