Speed Queens' Brydon has no regrets

ERIC FRANCIS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 6:08 PM ET

Weeks before John Kucera’s season-ending crash, Emily Brydon was asked about the importance she puts on the 2010 Olympics in her home province.

“I realize you can’t put all your eggs in one basket because if something happens then your life crashes and I’ve learned that from experience,” said the 29-year-old Fernie native.

“When you leave the start gate you can only do your best.”

And pray you make it down safely.

Kucera wasn’t as lucky last week at Lake Louise where his second race of the season ended in the netting where his leg snapped and ended his Olympic dreams.

“I really feel for him and can definitely empathize with him because that happened to me before the Salt Lake Games,” said Brydon.

“I was lucky to come back in time (for the 2002 Games). Every racer knows injuries are part of the sport but sometimes the timing of them makes it that much harder to deal with.”

While the very nature of ski racing is such that only a tiny percentage of competitors leave the hill happy every day, Brydon knows better than most about the inevitable disappointment that can stem from focusing too much on success in one particular race. For years so many of her biggest hopes and dreams rested on success at Lake Louise, only to leave the finish area in front of friends and family with a broken heart and tears in her eyes.

As emotional and colourful an athlete as Canada will send to Whistler in February, the elder-stateswoman of the Canadian Speed Queens isn’t ruling out another teary departure this weekend at the Bombardier Winterstart World Cup races at Louise.

After all, this will undoubtedly be her last appearance there as Brydon has long suggested she will have had enough by the end of 2010.

“I was in Soelden, (Austria) and I don’t normally like that place but I thought, ‘I can’t not like this place – I might not be back,’” laughed Brydon, who insists she’ll leave the nostalgic photo-taking to her mom, Rosemary.

“I’ve got pictures from the last 15 years – I can show pictures of the glacier receding.”

Proving conclusively patience is one of the greatest virtues of any elite athlete, Brydon admitted she almost ran out of it after the Torino Olympics when a ninth in super-g and 20th in downhill had her contemplating walking away from the sport.

“I didn’t want to walk away wondering if I can do more,” said the six-time national champion.

“I had regrets and that’s why I decided to come back. But now, I have none.”

Her change of heart stemmed largely from the fact that since then she bolstered a World Cup resume with just three previous third-place finishes on it by adding four more podium finishes in 2007 and 2008, including her first win in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

“I’m a slow learner,” laughed Brydon, honest enough to admit she’s long been tired of talking about the 2010 Olympics.

“If it’s about the excitement of the event that’s great but some of the questions get tricky or repetitive. So that’s why I call it the ‘O word.’”

Still, she appreciates it brings more attention to a sport that still struggles to find much of a platform in Canada amongst more mainstream sports.

“(Racing in Canada this weekend) will give a little bit of insight into what it’s going to be like in Whistler,” said the two-time Olympian, excited about downhills Friday and Saturday, with a super-G Sunday.

“When I raced in Whistler I didn’t feel the pressure, just the energy and the excitement.”

And with nothing left to prove she hopes to feel the same way throughout her final season.


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