Valérie Grenier doesn’t hesitate when she’s asked what her goal is at the Beijing Olympics.
“I’m going for an Olympic medal. That’s 100 per cent. That’s the goal,” Grenier said.
The 25-year-old from Mont-Tremblant, Que., will once again represent Canada at a Winter Games after finishing sixth in the combined event at the Pyeongchang Olympics. It was the best result for any Canadian woman in alpine skiing at the 2018 Games, and Grenier hopes to reach even greater heights this year, even though she won’t be competing in combined.
“That was pretty surprising when that happened and I was in the combined race so it was a little bit different for me,” said Grenier, who also placed 23rd in the super-G and 21st in downhill at Pyeongchang. “Coming into [Beijing], the way that I am now I’d say I feel really confident.
“I know that I can do better than I did then [in Pyeongchang]. I was still pretty young, just making my way on the World Cup circuit.”
Grenier has been focused on the Giant Slalom in the 2021-22 season where she has been consistently in or near the top 10.
She started the World Cup circuit with a seventh-place finish in Soelden, Austria, on Oct. 23, then fourth in Kranjska Gora, Slovakia, on Jan. 8, and an 11th-place finish in Kronplatz, Italy, on Tuesday. She also won the Giant Slalom event at the Italian national championships on Jan. 20 and 21 in Pozza di Fassa.
“Now that I’ve been around for a while, I know that these [Olympics] I can actually do well and actually aim for the podium,” Grenier said. “That was not even like a goal for me back then [in Pyeongchang].”
Grenier’s 2021-22 results are especially impressive after she lost two seasons after a crash on a training run at the World Championships in Are, Sweden, in February, 2019. Grenier fractured her right tibia, fibula and right ankle in the accident.
She said she took her time getting back because it’s so easy to come back too soon from a devastating injury like hers.
“I definitely missed a lot more time than we expected,” Grenier said. “But I think that was worth it to make sure that I was really strong and really ready to get back to ski racing because it is a tough sport and you never know what can happen.”
Canada’s alpine ski team was named Friday and Grenier will be joined by a mix of veterans and younger skiers.
Toronto’s Ali Nullmeyer, Amelia Smart of Invermere, B.C., Cassidy Gray of Invermere, Erin Mielzynski of Collingwood, Ont., Laurence St-Germain of Saint-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., Marie-Michele Gagnon of Lac-Etchemin, Que., and Roni Remme of Collingwood round out the women’s side of the alpine team.
Gray, who will be participating in her first Olympics, said representing Canada at a Games was a childhood dream, even if she hadn’t yet settled on a sport.
“Every kid that I grew up around always wanted to be an Olympian,” Gray said. “When I was younger, me and my cousins, we would do every Olympic sport. We were gymnasts. We were divers. We were track runners.
“We tried to do everything because I think that as a kid you just dream to be an Olympian.”
Competition in the women’s alpine events begins with Giant Slalom on Feb. 7, with the medals being awarded that day. Women’s slalom is Feb. 9, women’s super-G is Feb. 11, women’s downhill is Feb. 15, and the alpine combined downhill and slalom are both Feb. 17.