He crashed, he attacked, he missed a gate, he slalomed for some reason, he watched luge racers fly by inches away from his face, and, most importantly, he learned.
That’s the report from North Vancouver skier Brodie Seger following his first trip to compete in the Olympic Games. It was eye-opening for the 26-year-old racer, who said it was still an odd experience given the COVID-19 restrictions in place, but it was fantastic to compete outside of the typical World Cup bubble he normally skies in. He didn’t win a medal in any of the three events he competed in, but he did come away fired up about getting back to the Games in the future.
“I absolutely feel hungry for another one now, especially given that this was a bit of a strange Olympics compared to normal, but that's the world we live in right now,” he told the North Shore News. “But absolutely, I feel motivated to get there again in four years and hopefully experience the full shebang.”
Seger, who honed his craft with the Whistler Mountain Ski Club, is known for his skill in the speed races. First up in Beijing was the downhill, and Seger finishes a respectable 22nd, although he was hoping for more and said his performance was affected by a crash he suffered in the final training run before the race. He didn’t get another chance to try the course before the big show, and the crash was stuck in the back of his mind as he hit the starting gate.
“On the race day, that was definitely in my head a little bit, thinking about that turn and being a little nervous about it,” he said. “I skied a little tentatively, I would say, and I kind of wished I trusted myself a bit more. … I was a little disappointed with my result – 22nd isn’t terrible, but I know I could do a lot better.”
Seger then tried to switch on the aggression for the Super G race, held the next day, and the plan went awry early in the race when he attacked a blind jump a little too hard and flew off course, earning a disqualification. His teammate Broderick Thompson made almost the identical mistake a few minutes before Seger’s run.
“I didn't know about that at the time,” said Seger. “But it was just one of those things, like ‘Are you kidding me?’ Two guys on our team make the same boneheaded mistake?’”
He did, however, get a welcome shot at redemption in the alpine combined, a race that includes one run of downhill and one slalom. It was funny for Seger to be gearing up for the race, though, because he hadn’t competed in a high-level slalom race in years. But then he went out and clocked the third-fastest time in the downhill, and the Olympic spotlight found him for a brief moment.
“I had people asking me at the bottom, ‘How are you feeling going into the slalom, and you’re sitting in medal contention?’ And I’m like, ‘Man, you have no idea. When I push out of the starting gate, you’re going to laugh. I haven’t been on slalom skis for two years.’”
He did a conservative slalom run, and finished ninth overall for the event. It wasn’t his dream scenario, but it was a welcome result following his previous disappointments.
“It’s kind of cool – I have an Olympic top 10 under my belt,” he said. “It felt really good to end on a high note.”
Seger said his off-the-slopes Olympic experiences were toned down a lot because of COVID restrictions, although he did get to have some fun in the Olympic village, and watch fellow Canadians compete – being trackside for luge was a wild experience, he said, and a major highlight of the Games was seeing teammate Jack Crawford win bronze in alpine combined after finishing just off the podium in fourth place in the downhill.
Seger, back in North Van now, will head back out on the World Cup circuit soon, and he’ll bring with him the lessons learned in Beijing. And if he gets back to the Games in four years, he’ll be ready.
“It was definitely a different feeling than I've had before, so I think now having gone through that and sort of knowing what to expect when you get to that next level and that different type of stage, it’s going to help me in the future,” he said, adding that he knows what he’d do differently if he got another crack at an Olympic downhill.
“If I could go back to that day, I would probably tell myself, 'Yeah, this is your shot – so take it.' … I would have reminded myself that in a moment like that, where it is a big moment, it's an Olympic moment, it's worth taking a little bit more risk, you know, instead of backing off a little bit. There are certain moments where it's worth pushing it, and it's worth taking that extra risk, because that's your chance to go for it.”
Elsewhere at the Olympics, North Vancouver’s Jane Channell finished 17th in women’s skeleton. It was her second trip to the Games, following a 10th-place showing in 2018.
A pair of hockey players with links to North Vancouver also suited up for Canada's men’s team, which lost 2-0 to Sweden in the quarterfinals. North Vancouver native Jordan Weal and Port Moody’s Kent Johnson, a former North Shore Winter Club player, both had strong tournaments for Canada, each picking up five points in five games to finish tied for second on the team. Weal notched three goals and two assists in the tournament, while Johnson picked up one goal and four assists.