Samuel Girard's big dreams ~ Passion/Patin/Vitesse - Passion/Speed/Skating


8 février 2018

Samuel Girard's big dreams

Like any other elite athlete, Canada’s Samuel Girard dreams big. For sure, Olympic glory and world champion titles are part of those dreams, but only part of it. Apart from his skating career, Girard also dreams of nature, the great outdoors and big projects. It’s in a little coffee shop in Montreal that we had a big discussion.

By Carl Savard
Photos by Schaats Foto's, Patrick Charbonneau, Tony Chung (@SHORTTRACKHD) and Maxime Laoun

At 21 years old, Samuel Girard is already known as one of the best short track speed skater in the world. Combining power and agility, Girard never looks nervous or out of place on the ice. Such qualities helped him get to the top of his sport in Canada and as a result, in the world. “It’s when I moved from Saguenay to Montreal that my passion for short track went up a notch. I did my first World juniors and started believing I could accomplish more in this sport. I had always loved it, but that’s when I started focusing on it. The timing was just perfect. I was training in Montreal, some veterans were leaving after Sochi and I was able to partake in a few World cup events. Everything went really fast. I missed my family, but things were going so fast and I was learning so much that it was worth it.”

Girard learned so much in such a small amount of time that he became a straight A student. The one who always raises his hand to answer questions, even when the question is: Who will be Canada’s lead dog once veteran legend Charles Hamelin hangs up his skates? “I never told myself “One day I will replace Charles”. I did my things, won World cup medals, qualified for the Olympics and people started saying I was the next Charles Hamelin. I’m not the next Charles Hamelin. I am Samuel Girard. I don’t put pressure on myself thinking I need to be the next great one. If the role falls on my shoulder, I’ll do it but I’ll do it my way. If another teammate, like Charle Cournoyer for example, gets ahead and wins everything, I’ll follow him and help him out.”

Wise words coming from a young man. Through our discussion, I felt like pressure is not something that gets to him. Like he has been there before. Like he’s an old soul. A young man deeply grounded, for whom the life of an elite athlete comes with more positive sides than sacrifices. “I’m pretty lucky. I don’t need to have a rigid meal plan, which helps on a daily basis or when we travel for competitions. Also,I like to train hard. I’d say the only thing that feels like a sacrifice is the fact that I need to be careful not to hurt myself doing other sports. I really like skiing, but I don’t do it. I miss it a lot because I love the outdoors, the snow, the mountains, the scenery. It is an activity you can do with friends and family. Otherwise, I do my things, train hard and keep balance between my personal life and my skating career.”

His skating career is on the fast track and is already well decorated. Between 2013 and 2017, Girard obtained impressive results on the junior and senior scene at the national and international level but the ultimate goal is now just hours away: Olympic history. “Going to the Olympics is something huge. I don’t really know what to expect but since it’s my first time I mostly want to learn. Learn to manage my time, my energy and be focused. I want to feel the ice and the atmosphere. I want to be in the moment. I’m lucky enough to have teammates who will be there for a second, third and fourth time. They have a routine, so I will follow them, take note and have fun. As for the media attention that comes with the Games, it doesn’t bothers me. It's part of it. I hope to eventually be able to use this aspect of the sport to grow my own branding and be at ease with it once my career is over.”

Girard is about to battle it out in Korea, where short track is huge. He also had the opportunity to compete in the Netherlands quite a few times, a country that did not just highly developed its short track program in the last few years but also the way the competition are presented. He would like for Canada to go the same way when it comes to showcasing his beloved sport. “I don’t have a problem fighting on the track while music is playing in the arena like we do in Europe. I think it adds to our sport. If we could do the same here, with music and light show, I’d be happy. It’s a cool atmosphere.” He still has plenty of skating years ahead of him, but the young man already pictures what he wants to do in the future. “My main focus is on performing at my best, but I also want to bring my sport to another level. I’m dreaming of more attention from the media and sold out arenas. Just like when you go see a show. In fact, short track IS a show. If I can help bring more attention to it by doing tv shows or being present in other type of medias, I’m in.” 

Even though he is open to the idea of being under the spotlight,  Girard’s off the ice projects are more down to earth. “We are looking into buying a piece of land to build a house in the village where I grew up. I will definitely go back to Ferland-et-Boilleau once I’m done with speed skating.” He is deeply rooted in the small village of about 500 souls and the residents love their hero. “I don’t know where work will bring me after my career, but I know I’ll have a home in Ferland. I’d love to have my own business. It could be a coffee shop, a restaurant, it could even be a maple grove because I love nature, outdoors and manual work. It will all depends of how long I will skate and how successful I will be in my career. One thing is sure, I won’t be an accountant in an office tower of a big city. I need nature.”

We are now less than 48 hours away from the start of the short track competition of the Pyeongchang Olympic games. Like it was announced on January 24, Girard will be skating on 1500m on the first day of competition this Saturday. He will also compete in the two other individual distances and the team relay. To know more about short track in Pyeongchang, click HERE

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