It was only a matter of time before Valérie Grenier reached the top of the World Cup podium again. A prognosis that has become almost a certainty by seeing her ski with an aplomb and confidence that now defines her new normal. At 27, it’s not too late to become the skier she always wanted to be.

The snow was wet and the weather was gloomy when Grenier scored his second career victory on Saturday at the World Cup giant slalom in Kranjska Gora. A year earlier, almost to the day, the Franco-Ontarian had obtained her first title on this same track. Obviously, she is at ease in Slovenian Upper Carniola.

Difficult to explain why. It is perhaps the layout or the last wall of the course in which she excels. One thing is certain, she is experiencing the best moments of her career.

She has never been out of the top 8 in six giant slalom races this season. She is ranked fourth in the discipline rankings and ninth overall.

With his victory last year and his performance since the Tremblant World Cup, his most recent triumph had become predictable. She was skiing with too much conviction for it not to happen.

“I can just really ski the way I want and the way I do. And I know if I do that, it’s good enough to win. I don’t have to ski like crazy to cut the line, for example. I can just do my own skiing and I know that it is enough,” assured the skier joined in Soraga, in the north-east of Italy.

Encouraged by this surge of confidence, Grenier is able to approach each descent properly as the season progresses. “I don’t have to think, it’s really natural and it’s like instinctive. »

Grenier has always been one of Alpine Canada’s most beautiful projects. But something has changed this season. We could explain this trigger in more technical terms by evoking his speed gain, his management of turns or even his ability to limit his errors more than ever. However, the main interested party prefers to simply talk about trust.

Since October, the Canadian has been able to ignore her main demon, the second round. Too often in the past, Grenier has ruined quality first rounds because of trivial and avoidable errors in the second round. This season, all in contrast, she excels and can even explain her performance by her ease in the second descent.

“I am able to handle stress well, regardless of my rank in the downhill. The last race, I was still fourth, which is very good. I could have felt stress or pressure, but on the contrary, I felt great and calm. I knew I was capable of doing well. »

Unlike some of her rivals, Grenier reached the pinnacle of her sport later, at age 27.

Skiers like Mikaela Shiffrin and Alice Robinson have been winning as young as 17. The media and fans are fond of stories involving prodigies or precocious young talents. In reality, the average athlete breaks through much later.

Like Grenier, winner for the first time at 26. His progression curve follows normality more than that of certain young sensations on the circuit.

This is why the “finally” and “finally” following her two victories poorly reflect the expectations held for Canadian skiers. For example, Laurence St-Germain became world champion at age 28 last year.

“It’s true that sometimes we look at age a lot,” says Grenier, “but I think we have to realize that the progressions are so different for everyone. »

She particularly mentions her injury suffered at the World Championships in Are in 2019. Her four fractures to the tibia, fibula and talar neck certainly slowed her development.

But Grenier is where she wanted to be. And that’s just the beginning. Although she sometimes feels “a little old” when she turns her head to one side toward her younger teammates, the Saint-Isidore native can also find inspiration when she turns to the other side.

“Fede [Federica Brignone] is 33 years old and she’s at the top of her game,” she says. Same thing for Lara Gut-Behrami at 32 or Sara Hector at 31.

Grenier is experiencing the best moments of his career, if we trust the smile displayed on his face at the end of his last descent in Slovenia and his relaxed tone in the interview. Everything comes at the right time, there’s no denying it. Now you just have to enjoy it, because the climb to the top was too demanding to come back down anytime soon.

“It may have taken me longer, but [it’s] possible to stay there for a long time! »