St. Sauveur, Que.’s Marie-Pier Préfontaine is hanging up her race skis after a ten-year career on the Canadian Alpine Ski Team. The 27-year-old’s storied career has seen two Olympic Games, four World Championships and four top-ten World Cup finishes. Préfontaine worked her way up through the Canadian ski racing system dominating on the NorAm Cup circuit, wracking up 22 career podiums, 14 of which were wins. Her strong start as a rookie athlete lead her to great accomplishments as she competed on the world stage. Préfontaine, known by her friends as “MP,” laid the groundwork early in her career and was looked up to by many members of the women’s Canadian Alpine Ski Team.
“MP is extremely talented and she was the one I looked up to when I first made the Quebec team and the regional team in my career,” said teammate Marie-Michèle Gagnon. “She was the ‘it’ girl with an amazing first year on the FIS circuit. When I was growing up she was the best in Quebec and the girl to beat. I always looked up to her. We’ve developed a strong friendship throughout our time on the team together.”
Préfontaine landed a career-best World Cup finish at Kuehtal in Tirol, Austria in 2014 where she finished in sixth-place. This result helped poise Préfontaine for a career-best season in 2014-15, landing her a spot at the 2015 World Championships in Vail/ Beaver Creek, U.S.A. where she claimed silver in the team event.
“MP has been an incredible asset on and to the Canadian Alpine Ski Team,” said Martin Rufener, Alpine Canada Alpin (ACA) alpine athletic director. “She’s been a huge supporter of the team for many years and we wish her all the best in the next part of her life.”
On home snow, Préfontaine collected two national championship titles, both in giant slalom. She captured the first in 2014 in Whistler, B.C. and the second in 2015 in Mont Sainte-Anne, Que. Along with her victories, she’s amassed eight other national championships podium finishes throughout her career.
“I’m thrilled with my decision to retire from the Canadian Alpine Ski Team and I’m happy to be able to do it on my own terms,” said Marie-Pier Préfontaine. “I’m healthy, I qualified for the 2016-17 team and I’m really happy with my career as a whole. I’m thrilled with the journey I’ve had. I met amazing people along the way and I feel lucky to have had such a great experience and adventure.”
Préfontaine has been a veteran on the women’s team for many years and has had a positive impact on her teammates.
“One of my favourite memories of MP is from just this year,” says Gagnon. “It was in Soelden, Austria and she was in her first public bib draw, so the whole team came to watch her. There was a big crowd with loud music and we dared her to do something special. She borrowed Mikaela [Tommy]’s scooter and rolled on stage and broke out in dance. It shows how free-spirited she is and we are very proud of her. She knows when to have fun and when to focus. She’s been a great role model.”
Préfontaine cherishes the sport of skiing and will continue to find herself on mountain peaks. She’ll continue taking her scarf business, I GOT SWAGG, to the next level.
“MP has been on the team longer than any of the rest of us,” said teammate Erin Mielzynski. “We were always the new kids coming in, but she welcomed us with open arms, giving us swag and treating us as equals. Canada is known for having an amazing group of girls that get along incredibly well. I think it is veterans like MP that made this possible. She never made us feel inferior and she always spent time trying to bring the team together. MP was a role model for all of us and helped us grow into the athletes that we are today. I know she will impress us all with her new adventures and I am happy that she moves onto other things with grace, peace, a love for skiing and that same beautiful smile on her face. I want to thank her for these great years that we’ve had and for always letting me watch her ski and giving me advice when I need it most, as I try to emulate her amazing arcs.”
“I want to thank everyone who has supported and helped me in my career and to [thank] my fans who cheered me on,” said Préfontaine. “I don’t regret anything and it’s been an incredible ride. I’m going to miss the girls on the team the most. They’re my best friends and I’ll be cheering them on from wherever I am next year. They have tons of talent and I’m excited to see what they do!”
Also retiring is British Columbia’s Morgan Pridy, who has been a shining example of hard work, perseverance and dedication.
“Morgan is an incredibly hard-working guy,” said John Kucera of his former teammate and dryland training partner. “He is the true image of an elite athlete and what they should be. I always requested him as my dryland training buddy knowing he would push me to my limit and always drive me to my physical limits.”
In the 2012-13 season, Pridy skied to a breakout season claiming six NorAm Cup podiums, including three victories, and won the super-G and super combined titles. On the World Cup, Pridy showed his strength as a super-G skier wracking up five top-25 finishes throughout his career. He achieved a career-best finish in the 2014 Birds of Prey super-G in Beaver Creek, U.S.A. finishing in 16th-place. Representing Canada at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, Pridy skied to an impressive 10th-place finish in the super-G and a 20th-place finish in the super combined.
Editor’s note: This article was amended on May 17, 2016 to include additional information on Morgan Pridy.
Release courtesy of Alpine Canada Alpin