The next generation of Whistler skiers is rising in Alpine Canada's ranks.
Ford Swette and Broderick Thompson are both full-fledged members of the national ski team for the first time while Morgan Pridy will return for another season on the squad.
Thompson explained he was pleased with his "productive" summer, especially with the opportunity to work with some of Canada's veteran skiers like Jan Huden, Erik Guay and Whistler Mountain Ski Club's Manny Osborne-Paradis.
"They've been on the circuit for about 15 years or more and they know pretty much everything about it. The experience is definitely where I benefit from their presence," he said. "I definitely tried to ask them as much as I could, so if I was unsure about a turn or a roll or what I should think about in the run, they would be there to clarify and give me their opinion. I would work off of that."
While Thompson played down a suggestion that the decades of FIS experience he can mine has already made him wise beyond his years, he said he is already starting to think like a veteran.
"They know exactly the tactics to use coming out of rolls. They don't send it like a young guy would and hope for the best," he said. "They have a planned approach and that's what I was taking away from this summer, getting to know the rolls in the course and playing with the terrain instead of just muscling my way over it."
Swette, meanwhile, has also been pleased with his progress over the summer after a tough Nor-Am Cup season that saw him earn just a single podium — albeit a win.
A bounce-back could be in order.
"I'm really stoked to start the season because of how successfully the on-hill training has been going," he said. "The best thing is that things really came together. Sometimes in this sport, you know it one day and you ski your best and then the next day you don't know why but you're absolutely terrible. It's similar to golf in that way."
A significant portion of his summer was spent redeveloping a sense of confidence, as lacking that would be a major impediment.
"Over time, it starts to wear on your ability to think you're skiing really well and that confidence you have," he explained. "It's hard to travel the path, but you have to do your best, if that makes sense."
Swette plans to complete the full complement of NorAm Cup races and then as many World Cup and Europa Cup races as he has the opportunity to challenge.
"For overall goals, I'd like to come top 30 in a World Cup and take the overall GS NorAm title," he said.
Thompson, meanwhile, is aiming to expand his calendar of World Cup races, having competed at Lake Louise, Wengen and Kvitfjell last season.
"This year I'll build on that, so I'll do those three again and then maybe add a couple more in," he said. "Kitzbühel is the big one. It's very well known around the world. It's like the Super Bowl of ski racing. It's intimidating, but I'm excited to go try it out and get some experience on the track. That's the plan, but we'll see how the beginning of the season goes and hopefully I can end up in Kitzbühel."
Pridy reworks technique for 2015-16
Morgan Pridy explained he's proud to see more local talent join the team, but explained regardless of where the skiers hail from, the young blood keeps him from getting too complacent.
"Of course the whole Whistler connection is big. I have grown up around those two in the ski community and I believe they have the ability to do great work this season. We are buds and my role more than mentoring them is to lead by example, whether that's pushing them in the gym or talking tactics on hill," he noted via email. "They are full on National teamers now and that means they both push me to be better as much as I push them to do the same."
The Whistlerite explained he improved his fitness over the summer in order to maximize his edge. The biggest changes, though, have come with his positioning, which he described as a cautious but worthwhile process.
"The on-snow portion has been a bit of a rebuilding cycle. Working within my existing style to get a better hip position will lead to more speed. So at first it was slow and tedious, but I'm finally able to start ramping up the intensity and finding my race pace again," Pridy explained via email.
The 25-year-old is excited to get into competitive action when the FIS schedule kicks off in earnest later this month.
"I feel like I've put myself in a position to ski my best from the first race onward. It will be a battle as all World Cups are, but one I look forward to. Consistency is a funny thing and really can't be measured for me until the race season begins. I train at a high intensity, but it isn't possible to manufacture World Cup conditions, atmosphere or pressure until you are actually in the start gate," he explained.
With the new approach, Pridy hopes to climb into the elite class of super-G skiers, and successfully tackling a couple friendlier courses that challenged him last year will help him rocket up the standings.
"The goals I have for this season are pretty simple — to be one of the top 15 super-G skiers in the world by the end of the season," he noted. "There are some venues I know mesh better with my style than others, but what I'm really looking forward to is a shot at redemption at Val Gardena (where he finished 35th in the super-G) and in Kvitfjell (where he did not finish the super-G)."
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