Compared to last winter, Conrad Pridy can ski the World Cup downhill at Lake Louise on Nov. 24 nearly anxiety-free, knowing he’ll have more races to look forward to throughout the season.
Pridy and younger brother, Morgan, both got a taste of World Cup competition for the first time last season and both are looking forward to more as their 2012-13 campaigns approach.
Conrad, 24, was put on the start list for the two North American downhills that kicked off last season but found it difficult to savour the moments with his career at a crossroads.
“Last year, I was so stressed heading into the season,” the elder Pridy said Tuesday (Nov. 15). “On one hand, I finally got a shot at racing World Cup, which was huge in terms of my goals and making progress, but on the flip side I had all this extra pressure to produce breakthrough results at every race so I could qualify for the team.
“As cool as it was racing Lake Louise and Beaver Creek last year, I almost couldn’t enjoy it because, on race day, I had this little voice telling me I had to do something special, or this is it.”
Conrad said he found himself “over-thinking everything” as he struggled with his pre-Christmas schedule and was “feeling like a bit of a write-off.”
Then came a call from ‘Johno’ McBride, national speed team coach, to head over to Europe for more World Cup starts in January. Conrad responded with a top 25 at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, for his first-ever World Cup points. He returned to the Nor-Am Cup circuit and secured a downhill win and another podium in Aspen, Colo., a couple of weeks later, and it was those results that earned him a full-time spot on the World Cup circuit for the upcoming winter.
“That finish in Garmisch really kick-started the rest of my season and got my mojo back,” said Conrad. “It’s amazing what a little confidence can do; after Garmisch, I knew that if I skied well, I would be fast every time.”
He’ll be carrying that confidence into the new season, saying that he’s now proved to himself that he has what it takes to compete with the world’s best.
“Whenever I have a couple bad days in a row, I watch my run in Garmisch or my win in Aspen and it cheers me up,” he said.
Morgan, 22, made his World Cup debut in the downhill at Kvitfjell, Norway, towards the end of last season. He’ll have a full schedule of speed events on the Nor-Am and Europa Cup circuits upcoming this winter, but more World Cup starts remain a possibility.
“Right now, I am going to be in the training runs for the Lake Louise downhill, competing with some of my teammates for the remaining spots in the race,” he said. “After that, all World Cup starts for me will be up in the air, pending fast skiing.”
The younger Pridy certainly showed he could be fast last year, especially when it counted. Needing a top-five result at the U.S. National Championships in mid-February to qualify for Kvitfjell, Morgan hit the downhill podium in third to book his trip to Norway. At Kvitfjell, he finished 38th — a very respectable first outing.
“I felt pretty good about my last season of racing,” he said. “It was a goal of mine to make my first World Cup start and … getting to experience that really made me hungry for more, and showed me that although I have a lot of work left to do, I am on the right path to get there.”
Morgan got a chance to do some actual racing in Copper, Colo., this week, where a couple of giant slalom races were hosted, featuring mostly Nor-Am Cup regulars. Though the races served mainly as extra preseason preparation, he said it’s nice to be back between the gates again.
“They are sort of a dry run before getting into the real swing of things and allow for me to practice under the pressures of a race situation — something that is very hard to duplicate in normal training,” he said.