At the 2021 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Cortina d’Apezzo, Italy in February, Whistler Mountain Ski Club (WMSC) alum Brodie Seger put down a run for the ages in Super G.
And when he looked up at the scoreboard and a saw a single “4” next to his name in the standings (his best finish ever), the North Vancouver native couldn’t contain his excitement and threw his head back and let out a cheer of jubilation.
“I was ecstatic. It was a really interesting experience because it was by far my best result to date. That was a really difficult course and it definitely was not a very feel-good run because there’s one really tricky section that everybody was having a tough time getting through,” he said. “So it’s one of those rounds where I wasn’t really sure how it was going until I crossed the finish line and when I looked up at the timing board and I just saw a single digit placement, I was over the moon.”
For Seger, that was a result worth celebrating, which is why it didn’t make sense at first when people were simultaneously congratulating him and offering condolences. But after a few minutes he realized why. Seger had missed out on a podium spot by just four one hundredths (0.04) of a second.
But in a year where he was kept out of race action for an entire month while rehabbing a shoulder injury, not even missing the podium by that little could bring him down.
Like most competing at this high of a level, finishing in the top five at the World Championships was the culmination of years of work dating back over 20 years when Seger got his start in skiing on Whistler Blackcomb at just three years old.
It all started with weekend trips up to Whistler for family ski days as a toddler and before long that turned into joining the Whistler Mountain Ski Club (WMSC), where Seger made some lifelong friends and his love for skiing really took hold.
At that time, around 10 years old, Seger didn’t have any inclination to become a ski racer, he just enjoyed ripping around the mountain with his friends in WMSC and dropping off of every cliff they could find. But his coach at the time, Drew Hetherington, recommended they all at least try racing for a couple years as a way of developing some fundamentals and technical aspects of the sport.
When it came to Seger and ski racing, something just clicked, and he quickly began rising through the ranks. From WMSC to the B.C. provincial team, to the National Development Team and finally the full National Team.
Seger made his World Cup debut in 2017 and spent the next few years getting accustomed to the skill level of his new competition. And at the start of the 2020/21 season, it was looking like it was all starting to come together when, in one of the first races of the season, he caught an edge on the last turn and “went head over heels into the fence” injuring his shoulder.
“I actually had a fourth-place finish in the last training run of that downhill before the race that I hurt my shoulder. It’s just it’s a training run, which doesn’t mean anything but that was the best I had ever finished in any sort of World Cup run. So I thought, ‘holy smokes this is promising, I’m in a good place,’” he said. “So that’s why right off the bat I just thought ‘Oh, for Christ’s sake like is a shoulder injury going to keep me out? Are you kidding me? I can’t believe I’m going to miss time because of a stupid shoulder.’
“But that also kind of motivated me to just buckle down and get to work on the rehab as soon as possible because I still knew my skiing was still going to be in a good spot, I just had to make sure I took the right steps for my long-term health with fixing my shoulder properly.”
Seger had surgery in late December and about a month later he was back racing just in time for the World Championships in mid-February.
This season, coming off his best-ever finish in Super G, Seger looks to carry that momentum into a berth at the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, which is something he has been dreaming about since he became serious about ski racing more than 10 years ago.
“[There is] definitely some butterflies,” said Seger when asked about the possibility of representing his country on the world’s biggest stage come February 4.
“I already feel very proud to just be able to represent our country in every World Cup race on a regular basis, but being part of the Olympic team would absolutely be the cherry on top. I think it would be an amazing experience. And I think watching the way that it worked out for our athletes in Tokyo this past summer and seeing how many positive experiences still came out of that and how many great performances our athletes had, it was hugely inspiring.”
Looking back on his rollercoaster season last year, Seger came to a realization that, in the moment, a top-five finish at an international event doesn’t feel much different than any other good run he has done in the past and that staying loose and focusing on the mental side of things goes a lot farther towards getting better results than putting the focus on the physical side of things.
That being said, when Seger finally gets his opportunity to step up to that Olympic start gate, he’s going to lay it all on the line and shoot for a podium finish.
“If we’re being realistic about numbers, if I landed in the top 10 At the Olympics, I would be pretty happy about that, no doubt,” he said. “But when I talk about how it’s all about the medals, I think at the end of the day, what it comes down to is in a big moment like that, and in and something that is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, it’s about recognizing that you need to take your shot, you need to lay it all on the line, right?
“That’s what it really comes down to. I don’t want to go to the Olympics and just try to make it down and have a decent result. I want to go there, and I want to absolutely put it all on the table and see what I can come away with. And for sure I would be happy if I made it in the top 10 of a race like that, but I’m definitely going to shoot for the podium.”
This article is part of a series of profile stories highlighting athletes heading to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games, or those who hope to make it there. For others go to piquenewsmagazine.com