At the age of 37, Canadian alpine skier Erik Guay recently turned the page on a brilliant career. The decorated athlete racked up 25 World Cup podiums, 5 world championship medals, and 3 Olympic appearances. But he won’t be out of the spotlight for long. Freshly named as an ambassador for Club Med, Guay attended the mid-December inauguration of Les Arcs Panorama, the company’s brand-new resort in the French Alps.
After a record-breaking career, you announced in November that you would be retiring from competition. Alpine skiing is sure to remain one of your passions. What are your plans for the near future?
Skiing is a big part of my life, and one of the first things I plan to do is go skiing with my kids as much as possible. I’m also extremely proud to be partnering with Club Med. I was just at Les Arcs Panorama, and I’m very excited about the Club Med Quebec Charlevoix, opening in December 2020.
You’ve talked before about how you essentially learned to ski and walk at the same time, thanks to your father. Are you doing the same with your kids?
My three oldest girls are four, six, and nine, and they were all skiing by the age of two . . . My youngest turns two next March, and I’ll definitely be taking her out on the slopes this winter in Tremblant, in the Laurentians, where my family and I live!
A ski champion competes solo. Skiing with your family is something else entirely. What does it mean to you?
It’s so important. I’ve travelled a lot. I’ve seen and raced down some spectacular mountains, but now, what I want most is to spend time with my family—to switch gears but still go skiing together. It’s a truly intergenerational sport. I can go skiing with both my 4-year-old daughter and my 78-year-old dad, and we all have a blast!
If you had to give one piece of advice to parents who want to take their kids downhill skiing, what would it be?
Start early, age two or three, and aim for short sessions, even just 15 minutes in the beginning, just to get them used to being on skis. Most importantly, don’t force the sport on them if the interest isn’t there.
Through a partnership with France.fr, you recently became an ambassador for Club Med, which puts a strong emphasis on being family-friendly. What do you think of the type of ski vacation packages it offers?
I’m a huge fan of all-inclusive packages when it comes to ski trips. They’re really worth it, I think. You don’t have to stress over booking flights, accommodations, restaurants, ski tickets . . . and when you add it all up, it’s not as expensive as you’d think. There are no nasty surprises. Plus, there’s something for the entire family. Kids are split into age groups for activities and ski lessons, and in the meantime, parents get to do their own thing.
Have you ever taken your family skiing in the Alps?
Just once, in Austria, but we will definitely be back.
What are your fondest memories from competing in the Alps, and why?
I remember Val d’Isère, in the French Alps, in 2007. I made it to the podium, in second place, along with my teammate Manuel Osborne-Paradis, who came third. There was also Chamonix in 2012, where three Canadians finished first (Jan Hudec), third (me), and fifth (Benjamin Thomsen). Those shared victories are my fondest memories.
Whether you were there competing or on holiday, when was the first time you went skiing in the French Alps, and what makes those mountains special compared to the other places you’ve skied?
It was in 2002 for a summer training camp on a glacier. It was incredible, but I mostly remember all the excitement surrounding the FIFA World Cup that summer! What I love about the French Alps is everything that comes with the skiing, the perks—especially the little restaurants you’ll find in cabins along the slopes, even high up. You can stop, grab a bite, have an espresso . . .
Enter for a chance to win an all-inclusive Club Med stay in the French Alps, thanks to our new ambassador Erik Guay!