CANMORE – You can taste the podium, says Jeff Read, following the national speed team skier’s being a hair-length away from bronze in the season ending world cup super-G finals in Grandvalira, Andorra.
Finishing a career-best fifth place on March 16, the Canmore skier is basking in the aura of a breakthrough season, which saw him winning a world championship bronze in mixed team parallel in February with brother Erik Read, Britt Richardson, and Valerie Grénier.
Starting with a much-desired No. 4 bib, Read finished the super-G run at a time of 1:24.78 – 0.16 seconds behind bronze.
“It’s super refreshing to finally see myself in there,” said Read. “I have had the speed for a while, it’s just been getting down run after run … and getting a gnarly bib was a game changer, too, because it’s a whole other world once you start at the front of the pack and it makes you way more competitive at the top end so a season I'm really happy with.”
On paper, it is Read’s best world cup result, but he knows he has to have an “absolute elite run” to find the podium. He lost some time near the finish line, around the eighth last turn, which was the same spot downhill king Aleksander Aamodt Kilde flubbed on, too.
“I went out there and skied free and didn’t try to do anything crazy, too special, but had a little mistake down at the bottom that was definitely killing me ‘cause that at least cost me 16 hunnies [hundredths of a second],” said Read.
“I know exactly what I need to do, so it’s just a matter of putting the pieces together and finding that skiing and throwing down.”
The Canmorite finished 17th overall in the super-G rankings – the top Canadian among the likes of breakout star Jack Crawford – for a huge step up from 50th last year.
Read said he has been able to identify the pieces to make the next jump and not get complacent in the top-20.
“I can’t sit back and relax. I’m hungry to move on to the next level,” said Read.
“I know how competitive it is, you just have to find something that will push you over the limit to get that last smidgen of time. [Crawford] has been doing that all year, and I can see in training we’re neck and neck, and he’s figured that out.
“For me, I’m just hoping it’s a matter of time.”