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Canmore alpine skier wins first World Cup medal

Jeff Read bests Marco Odermatt, Jack Crawford to win World Cup silver.

KVITFJELL, Norway – On the edge of his seat, downhill skier Jeff Read anxiously watched the biggest names in ski racing attempt to knock him out of a World Cup podium spot.

The 26-year-old from Canmore had just skied the best run of his life; quickly finding the finish line in the leader spot in the super-G at a time of 1:09.40 in Kvitfjell, Norway on Sunday (Feb. 18).

Racing with the No. 3 bib, Read’s fast time set the marker for World Cup studs to chase like Canadian teammate Jack Crawford, Italy’s Dominik Paris and Switzerland’s Marco Odermatt, the top-ranked skier in the world.

After the Swiss superman finished 0.02 slower than the Canuck, with a big reaction from a smiling Read sitting in the leader's chair, things started getting real for the Canadian looking for his first-ever World Cup podium.

“I made a little mistake at the bottom, so [Odermatt] almost reeled it in and that’s when I would say the idea started going through [my] head like, wow, this could not only be a podium, but this could be fighting for the win,” said Read. “That’s when I started getting really excited and really nervous, too.”

Following Odermatt’s run, 20-time super-G World Cup medallist Vincent Kriechmayr of Austrian beat Read’s time by 0.17 seconds.

However, none would challenge the Canadian beyond that, resulting in silver.

Almost a year to the day when Read helped win bronze for Canada in the mixed team event at the 2023 World Championships, Sunday’s result is unquestionably the Banff Alpine Racers' alum's biggest individual achievement by far.

“It’s something I have been really hunting for, for a while,” Read said.

It's fitting that it happened at Kvitfjell, where the speed specialist trained and raced for nearly one month after he didn’t qualify for the Beijing 2022 Olympics.

Read knows the northern Norwegian slope like the back of his hand.

“I missed out on the Olympics two years ago and instead of just going home and hanging out and doing nothing, I went to Kvitfjell with my teammate Cam Alexander and we raced a Euro Cup [and World Cup] there and spent a ton of time on the track,” said Read. “We know every bump so well that we can really push and execute at a high level.”

A day prior, Alexander won bronze in downhill at the Norwegian slope.

On social media, Alexander praised his teammate and wrote: “Congrats to the dawg [Jeff Read] on his first World Cup podium! Can’t say I didn’t see it coming.”

Read scored sixth place in the downhill race, a new personal best. He said the snow at Kvitfjell is similar to Canada’s. In the days leading up to the World Cup races, Read’s confidence was soaring at the northern hill.

“I think it’s a track that has terrain that sort of plays into my skill set. It’s got a lot of gliding, so a lot of linking turns and it’s all about carrying speed and I think that’s been good for my strengths,” Read said.

Still “starstruck by the top guys” on the World Cup, Read would like to think he's on their radars after winning the silver medal, along with being ranked seventh in the world in super-G.

“It kind of happens all really quickly after what felt like not a solid super-G year and it just turned into a great one,” said Read.

Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

An award-winning reporter, Jordan Small has covered sports, the arts, and news in the Bow Valley since 2014. Originally from Barrie, Ont., Jordan has lived in Alberta since 2013.
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