Morgan Pridy was the podium darling last time the Alpine Canada Sport Chek Canadian Championships were held in Whistler.
The 25-year-old Whistler Mountain Ski Club alumnus won the downhill and placed second in the super-G here in 2014 to impress his local cheering section.
He's set to return when this year's festivities kick off on Thursday, March 24, and run through Tuesday, March 29.
Though he has the past successes from which to draw and seems to be topped full of momentum, Pridy knows he'll still have to be at his best when he enters the start gate.
"Last Nationals here were great for me, and because downhill is set so fast it's hard to make many dramatic changes to the way the course is set," Pridy said when reached by email. "So from 2014 to now it should run fairly similar and it's a huge advantage having been quick in the past. No two races can ever be the same, though, so I will have to ski my very best if I want a chance to repeat my past successes here."
Pridy acknowledged that after travelling internationally and lining up against some of the world's best on the FIS World Cup circuit, Nationals aren't a daunting event on his calendar. However, he certainly enjoys the chance to return to Whistler for a set of contests.
"It's very refreshing to come home and be able to race against all my peers for bragging rights. The atmosphere is much lighter and everyone is up on the hill to have fun and connect with the younger up-and-comers of our sport," he said.
Entering the races, Pridy has some forward progress after taking a downhill win in NorAm Cup action in Aspen on March 12 and finishing fifth in the super-G and sixth in a second downhill as part of the Colorado stop.
Pridy noted he's looked to make some changes to his skiing on the fly and while he isn't consistently happy with his runs, he's finding smaller amounts of success that give him a boost he needs to keep going.
"The season for me has been full of ups and downs. I worked hard to make some technical changes in the way I've been skiing during the prep period and I'm very happy with how the skiing is looking. Unfortunately it took me a long time to adapt those changes to a race environment and really push all out again," he explained. "The runs where I'm skiing how I like, right on that thin line have been few and far between. But I have continued to grind it out and finally am getting back to a place with my skiing that I am happy.
"I was able to win parts of World Cup races this season and that confirms to me that I have to speed to race and win against the best."
Broderick Thompson, meanwhile, is admittedly less of a National Championships veteran. However, at just 21, he still has plenty of opportunities to find his way onto the podium.
The championships were held in Whistler back-to-back in 2013 and 2014, and Thompson saw better results in the former, taking a top result of 15th in the super-G before slipping to a top showing of 20th, also in the super-G, a year later.
Thompson, however, did take a sixth in the slalom in Mont Ste. Anne, Que. at last year's contest.
"It feels good to be back after a long season, actually. Just to be home is nice," Thompson said. "It feels good to be back in my own bed and to race here to finish off the season is also a highlight."
Thompson feels he can do even better this time around, hoping to channel Pridy and smile big and brightly from the top of the podium this week.
"I really just want to ski like I've been training and try to win. That's the goal. I can. I have the ability, so I want to be able to show my skills and try to stand on the top step," he said. "All of the skiing I've done on that track helps. It's always good to look back in your past runs on it and the course will probably be pretty similar, so that helps."
Like Pridy, Thompson has endured a challenging season, but for different reasons. This has been his first full year on the FIS World Cup circuit and he's struggled at times to keep pace with the rest of the field, posting a best result of 27th in alpine combined in Chamonix. However, at the NorAm Cup event in Aspen, Thompson posted a top-10 (ninth in super-G) and two other top-20 finishes to cleanse his palate.
"I've been getting my butt kicked on the World Cup as I try to learn the tracks. It's definitely harder to go through a lot of defeat, but it's necessary," he said. "I definitely have a big learning curve and I'm definitely taking some confidence out of that super-G in Aspen, that's for sure."
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