St-Isidore’s Valérie Grenier celebrates her first World Cup win. Photo courtesy Alpine Canada GEPA pictures/Mario Buehner

ST-ISIDORE – St-Isidore, ski racer Valérie Grenier has won the gold medal in the International Ski and Snowboard Federation (FIS) Alpine Skiing Women’s World Cup Giant Slalom at Kranjska Gora, Slovenia on Sat., Jan. 7.

This was Grenier’s 90th World Cup start. She was the fastest skier in her first run and also managed to be the fastest in her second run. The competition features two separate runs that all competitors have to do.

“It feels amazing! I’ve wanted this day for so long, it’s a dream come true,” said Grenier. “I’m proud that I was able to keep it together for the second run and to find a way to win after winning the first run.”

Grenier feels her skiing is for her, more like a calling.

She can remember her parents taking her skiing and trying out her brother’s skiing equipment when she was a toddler.

“I mastered a few little runs and when they said it was time to go home, I started bawling my eyes out. I wanted to keep skiing. I think I really fell in love right away,” she said.

She took ski lessons up until she was around seven years old and at that point she began to compete.

The road to the Jan. 2023 gold medal has been long and not always an easy one.

Grenier entered the ski-racing scene with a bronze medal performance at the 2015 World Junior Championships.

At the age of 21 she was competing at her first Olympic Games at PyeongChang in 2018, starting in the giant slalom, super-G, downhill, and alpine combined.

She embraced the full World Cup circuit, racing in both tech and speed disciplines, capturing three top-30 results in the 2017-18 season, including a 15th place in the Alpine Combined in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, and has gone on to have multiple top-10 finishes since.

She was sidelined for the 2018-19 seasons when she broke her right leg in four places but came back determined to win in 2020-21. She got four top-30 finishes, highlighted by a 13th place finish in Courchevel’s, FRA giant slalom. In 2021-22, she catapulted from the top-30 into the top-10 three times, with a personal best finish of 4th in giant slalom in Kranjska Gora, SLO just 0.08 seconds off the podium.

Looking ahead to the future, Grenier is extremely excited for the idea of women’s FIS World Cup alpine races at her home hill of Mont-Tremblant in 2023 and beyond.

Grenier believes her successes including her latest one is the result of hard work, confidence, and experience.

“On Saturday everything came together. I felt amazing and felt really prepared, and calm,” she said.

“I felt really good and I knew I could do good here. I had pretty high expectations but nothing specific. After the first run I was first. I was a bit surprised because I did not think I had been that fast. For the second run I was starting in the last spot. Just before the run I felt so good, calm and composed,” she said. Knowing that she was leading in the competition and that the second run would determine if she could stay in 1st, Grenier remembers she was calm and focused.

“I started skiing, and I felt I was flowing, and was just doing my thing,” she said.

“When I got to the bottom I saw that I was first.”

She said when you are coming down the hill you do not really know if you are making any little mistakes that would affect your run, and you have to stay focused on what you are doing.

She had a feeling it was a good run, but not necessarily good enough to win.

“When I crossed the finish line and saw that I won it was the greatest feeling in the world.

In an Alpine Canada press release Grenier said, “I thought that there would be a lot of pressure, but I felt really calm and confident. I’m so happy to have our team here. It was so fun to see them at the finish and to celebrate with them.”

This is Canada’s first women’s World Cup podium in giant slalom since 2006 and first World Cup GS win since Kathy Kreiner stood on top of the podium for Canada in 1974.