It’s been an agonizingly long 18 months since Valérie Grenier buckled up her Rossi boots, tapped her poles and launched out of a start gate, tackling a red and blue plastic jungle and attempting to find the fastest line to the finish.
The 23-year-old from St. Isidore, Ontario (between Ottawa and Montreal) who has 20 top-30 World Cup finishes to her credit, finally returned to full on-snow training with the Canadian alpine ski team in Stelvio, Italy in August.
Grenier was injured in a crash in a downhill training run in February 2019 at the World Championships in Are, Sweden, where she fractured her right tibia, fibula and right ankle.
It was a strange feeling to not be on snow training with her teammates.
“It was hard at the beginning because I thought my injury was going to be simple, and that sorta put me down,” Grenier said to Alpine Canada from her cottage in Ontario, where she is completing a mandatory 14-day quarantine after recently returning home from Europe.
It was a tough transition being away from the sport but Grenier found a silver lining, and most importantly is back with the Canadian women’s team doing what she loves.
“Once I accepted that I was not going to race last season, I really took the time to focus on little [challenges] in the gym and on snow, and I changed a lot of things that I’ve wanted to change for a long time.”
Grenier had some brief time on snow last season, like skiing for fun, but being away from the routine of being with her teammates was difficult.
She attended the 2019 World Cup races in Killington, Vermont as a spectator but the camaraderie between her teammates was something she said was lacking in her life … even though being away from the grind of the tour gave her perspective. “I missed travelling, but it was somewhat nice because I wasn’t packing and repacking all the time, it can get tough always living in hotels.”
No athlete ever wants to be forced away from a sport they love, but for Grenier, with a career-best fourth in Cortina World Cup super-G in 2019, returning to Europe training with her team felt even more special at the latest camp in Italy.
“I really missed all the girls, we’re really close,” she said, “I’m so happy to be preparing to race again, just being back is awesome and I’m really grateful for it.”
Now under quarantine at her cottage in Ontario, alongside teammate Laurence St-Germain, Grenier is seeking a return to normalcy.
“It’s really the perfect situation, we have a lot of space, we have an outdoor gym area and we’re having fun together … it’s not that bad.”
– Alpine Canada contributed to this report.