Despite growing up in hockey-mad Quebec, Erik Guay’s childhood dreams revolved around lifting a completely different trophy than the one his pals cherished.
And Thursday, far from the gaze of his native land, the
28-year-old skier had his dream come true by winning something few Canadians have ever heard of — the Crystal Globe.
“The Stanley Cup would be sweet, but for me and my family, we dreamed of the Crystal Globe,” Guay said from Germany, where a victory in Thursday’s final super-G race of the season earned him the discipline’s World Cup season title — the first Canadian man to do so.
“I’m completely ecstatic — I kind of dreamt this in my wildest dreams. It’s very emotional. I knew I had an outside shot but knew I needed to win and take some big chances to do it. We couldn’t have written a better screenplay.”
Ah, but the majority of Canadians who ignore sports like skiing all but two weeks every four years will suggest his late-season heroics came two weeks too late. What they fail to realize is a Globe is more prestigious in skiing circles than Olympic gold.
“It’s tough to put into perspective,” said the Mont-Tremblant, Que., resident, who had two fifth-place finishes at the Whistler Olympics, including a super-G effort that left him 0.03 off the podium.
“Olympic gold, you could almost get lucky and win one race,” Guay said, alluding to something many no-names have done. “The overall means consistency, and you have to be on top throughout the whole year. That said, these Olympics were at home and everyone was watching, so it would have been special.
“But winning the overall ... is something I’ve been dreaming about since I was a little kid.”
As teammate Jan Hudec put it, “Globes are huge in Europe — kind of like tight pants.”
But even a young dreamer couldn’t have fathomed winning it the way he did.
After winning the first super-G race of his life Sunday in Norway by taking the sort of chances he’d never allowed himself to take before, Guay entered Thursday’s final race a distant third in the standings.
In Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, where he finished third in a downhill Wednesday, Guay needed to not only win the final race but hope leader Michael Walchhofer of Austria faltered mightily.
He did, finishing 15th.
In Canadian terms, Guay erased a four-goal deficit in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final to win in overtime.
“He knew he had nothing to lose and he was going to risk everything today,” said coach Paul Kristofic. ”He executed the plan exactly. It’s obviously an incredible day for us. It’s a massive accomplishment. He really took every chance he could today to be No. 1.”
Admittedly bothered by the 0.03-second shortcoming in Whistler that squandered his best chance at becoming a household name, Guay said the Olympic experience helped motivate him for his season’s storybook finish.
“I was almost angry and wanted to show how
I could ski,” said Guay, whose
13 podium finishes (three in the last five days) leave him one behind Ken Read.
“(Winning the Globe) wasn’t even a thought in my head until the last race. I came in with an open mind and felt I had something to prove because I was so close at the Olympics, where I was sort of robbed.”
He was also fourth at the Turin Games. Guay’s World Cup title is the only one by a Canadian male outside of Steve Podborski’s downhill crown in 1982, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
“Almost every single one of my (sponsor) contracts come to an end at the end of this season,” Guay said. “This is going to help my chances for renegotiation, for sure.”
Indeed, the stuff dreams are made of.