Brady Leman

An interview with one of the world’s best ski cross athletes, who hails from Calgary

Being raised by parents who were ski instructors, at what point did you – or they – realize that you had the potential to ski professionally?

I think my parents always knew I had talent for skiing. Being on skis at such a young age, and so often, I developed a love for the sport at a very young age. For a long time it wasn’t about the competition for me, I just loved being on the hill and skiing with friends. At about 18 years old, I started to take it pretty seriously, and that is when I began to believe that I could become one of the fastest in the world.

In 2008, you turned down a spot on the Alpine World Cup and paid your own way to be part of the Ski Cross World Cup competitions. What attracted you most to ski cross?

I had always loved skiing all over the mountain, not just racing between the gates. I loved hitting jumps and doing tricks. Once ski cross was added to the Olympics and Canada formed a team, it became more realistic for me. I got invited to a ski cross camp and I had more fun at that training camp than I’d had in years. My mind was made up by the end of that week that I wanted to make a go at ski cross.

After having the opportunity to ski at many locations around the world, what are a few of your favourites?

My favourite place to ski is still at my home outside Calgary. I grew up skiing at Lake Louise and know that mountain better than anywhere. I also love skiing in Whistler, B.C. Some of the coolest places we get to race are in the French Alps. We also had a race in Japan a few years ago – it was so great to experience a totally new culture on a ski trip.

In many of these events, you race more than once a day, for several days in a row. Is the schedule ever “too much” – and if not, what do you think your limit would be?

This season on the World Cup has been crazy with the schedule. In ski cross, if you make the medal round you are doing four race runs in a day, and sometimes we have qualification that same day as well. We are getting close to the limit this yearwe had 15 World Cup races this season, and it definitely takes its toll on your body.

How much time do you spend training, and when there isn’t snow, what activities keep you in peak form?

I spend a lot of time training in the summer months, 30 to 40 hours in the gym each week. I love mountain biking, riding motocross and golf for cross-training.

You’ve had to recover from a few injuries that threatened to impact your ski cross career. What do you feel has been the key to your recovery and training?

I think the key to my recovery was never believing that the injury would beat me. Through all the rehab and recovery I was always focused on getting back on the snow. I knew that if I was healthy, I could have a chance to be winning medals on the World Cup.

What’s the highlight of your career so far?

The highlight so far is definitely winning the World Cup race in 2012 at Blue Mountain in Ontario. I had a lot of my family there watching, and winning in front of the home crowd was amazing.

As the Canada Ski Cross Team prepares for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia, what do you think the greatest challenges will be?

Staying healthy is always a challenge for a ski team. We need to train hard to be as fit as possible. Also I think finding a place to replicate some of the features we saw at the test event in Sochi will be a challenge. The ski cross course there is huge and very long. It’s always a challenge as a ski cross team to find a resort that will allow you the hill space and time to build big features and jumps.

You discussed the challenges of securing sponsorships in a recent interview. Why are sponsors such as Audi so important to the team?

Sponsors like Audi give our team the resources we need to help us train and get ready to race. Without these sponsors, we wouldn’t be able to put the time in that we need during the off-season to get ready to chase wins and medals on the World Cup and at the Olympics.

(Originally published in Audi magazine, Spring 2013)