Ski legend Erik Guay, 37, announced on Thursday that he is retiring from a highly successful ski racing career.
“Today is a bittersweet day as I close a chapter on what has been a significant part of my life; decades of striving to be the best ski racer in the world, representing my country around the globe, and being a member of an incredible team,” said Guay from Lake Louise.
Born and raised in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Guay joined the Canadian Alpine Ski Team in 1998, going on to become Canada’s most decorated male alpine ski racer on the strength of World Cup and FIS Alpine World Ski Championships podiums.
Guay competed in 230 World Cups, reaching the podium 25 times and claiming five victories.
His first World Cup win came in 2007 at the downhill in Garmish-Partenkirchen, Germany. In 2010, he claimed World Cup super-G wins in Kvitfjell, Norway, and Garmish-Partenkirchen, and he clinched the World Cup super-G title for the season. Guay was again the fastest man in the world at the 2013 Val Gardena, Italy, downhill and his most recent World Cup downhill victory was in 2014 in Kvitfjell.
In addition to racing on the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup circuit, Guay competed in two FIS Alpine World Ski Championships where he was crowned World Champion in downhill in 2011. He became the oldest world champion in super-G in 2017 at the age of 35, and silver medallist in downhill in 2017.
At the Olympic level, Guay first represented Canada in Torino, Italy, in 2006 where he narrowly missed the podium with a fourth place finish in super-G. At the 2010 Games in Vancouver, Guay capitalized on a home snow advantage to finish fifth in both the super-G (narrowly missing a bronze medal by 0.03 seconds) and downhill, and 16th in giant slalom. He competed at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, where he placed 10th in downhill.
Last season, Guay was named to the 2018 Olympic team but in late January 2018, recurring back problems forced him to withdraw from what would have been his fourth Olympics.
“I am very proud of all that I’ve achieved and keep amazing memories of each of the races I had the privilege to compete in,” he said. “There’s no doubt that becoming a World Champion as a lifetime achievement and winning the FIS Crystal Globe were huge highlights.”
Over the course of his career, Guay has shown incredible resilience as he underwent six knee operations and was sidelined by frequent back pain.
Earlier this fall, Guay, who is one of the oldest racers on the circuit, announced that this would be his last season skiing on the FIS World Cup tour. Following a successful summer training program, he was poised to compete at Lake Louise — the only Audi FIS Ski World Cup stop in Canada. Lake Louise has historically been good to Guay where he earned his first ever World Cup podium in 2003 with a second place finish in the downhill. At Lake Louise, Guay achieved a total of five top 10 finishes in downhill and six top 10 finishes in super-G.
Following Wednesday’s inaugural training run of the season, Guay decided to advance his retirement announcement. This would have been Erik’s 15th time competing at Lake Louise over the past 17 years. He plans to ski a tribute run for fans present at Lake Louise on Sunday as part of the super-G race.
Guay’s passion for skiing has deep family roots. His mother, Ellen Mathiesen, is a longstanding ski instructor at Mont-Tremblant and his father, Conrad Guay, coached at all levels of the ski racing system for decades. Guay grew up racing alongside older brother Kristian and younger brother Stefan, both of whom had successful ski racing careers at the national and international levels. Stefan has been working as a coach for the men’s World Cup speed team for the past two season.
“My parents had a huge influence on my initiation to skiing and together as a family, we embraced every occasion to be out on the slopes to enjoy the mountain,” he said. “There is no doubt my entire family played a key role in getting me to this point with their unconditional support.”
Guay is married to Karen Guay and is the proud father of daughters Logann (9), Leni (6), Marlo (4), and Maude (1). The family continues to live at Mont-Tremblant where he Guay grew up. Guay will take the coming months to explore his professional options moving forward.
“I’m excited to now have more time with my very active family and shift a lot of my passion and time towards raising my girls and being at home with my wife. I am leaving my sport with a clear mind and lots of optimism for the projects to come.”
“Guay has inspired generations of ski racers and is a role model for all of us,” said Vania Grandi, CEO and President of Alpine Canada. “His successes, his work ethic and his passion for the sport have contributed to advancing the caliber of racing in our country and around the world. It’s been thrilling to follow his career over the years and to see him make Canada proud at so many events! We wish him continued success as he embarks on a new life chapter and look forward to his involvement in ski racing and Alpine Canada as an outstanding ambassador.”
At his retirement press conference, Guay closed by thanking all who contributed to his career.
“I’m extremely grateful for all who supported me over the course of my career including my coaches, teammates, medical staff, therapists, volunteers, past and current sponsors of Alpine Canada, fans, personal sponsors, and of course my family,” he said. “The list is almost too long of people who supported me.”
The Canadian ski community will host a career celebration in 2019 in honor of Guay. More details will follow in the coming weeks.
Release courtesy of Alpine Canada Alpin.