There was a time when school was where alpine skiing careers went to die.
Now, with 10 top-30 world cup finishes and a University of Denver degree in finance to his credit, Trevor Philp has declared that myth busted.
The giant slalom slayer will enter his second winter Olympics and along with teammate Erik Read, represent this nation’s best bet in the technical events. Both excelled in the NCAA program, so there’s no doubt they are two of the smartest guys on the hill.
Philp graduated in 2015, so he’s had two full seasons of training without school. It looked to come together in 2016, when he broke through with a 14th-place finish at Kitzbuehl, of all places. But last year he struggled to make the flip. As pressure mounted, Philp managed to record a career-best 11th-place finish in Beaver Creek, Colo. and 23rd in Adelboden, Switzerland to earn his spot on the Olympic team.
“I had a full year of missing the top-30,” Philp said. “I tried to approach everything with the same intensity and routine as I always do. I have a cue word to focus and go ski.”
He worked with a psychologist in the off-season to find the missing edge in his skiing. The nature of slalom and giant slalom mean results can come few and far between, but Philp knows he is capable of being one of the best. He had top-three ski speed in Adelboden, which was another big boost of confidence.
“Every year, you grow a bit with more experience and fine tune yourself as an athlete. I worked with a new sports psychologist this year, who got me to put my efforts in the right spot. It’s been a great thing for me,” Philp said.
Philp is a familiar face at Norquay and at the Canmore tennis courts. His father John is a lawyer for Encana who ski raced in the Bow Valley, while his mother Jane was a nationally-ranked badminton player.
Not to be confused with Canmore’s hockey-mad Philp family, Trevor Philp began skiing with the Banff Alpine Racers (BAR) program when he was four years old, eventually moving on in 2009.
It was during those final years with BAR that he got to ski with Thomas Grandi, who launched a comeback in 2010. Training every day, teenager and the veteran, the two forged a bond, and stay in contact. Both have a similar disposition and passion for the sport, so it’s no surprise they clicked.
“I check in with Thomas a few times a year. He cares about the sport. If I can get tips, it’s a good day,” Philp said.
Philp was only 21 for his first Olympics, and said he now has more to prove at the Olympics.
“My first Olympics, I was 21 years old, so I knew I wasn’t shooting for a podium. I just wanted to go to show what I can do. Now, four years later, and with better results behind me, I want to ski with the top guys. I can go in with more confidence,” Philp said. “I am also looking forward to seeing the culture and the mountain.”
When the pressure is on, Philp is at his best. He was a key part of Canada’s team silver medal performance at the 2015 world championships, where he proved he can match speed with the world’s best.
“After a few full seasons, now we’re breaking in as a group. It’s a great feeling to push with the best in the world,” Philp said.