After seven seasons with the Yukon Ski Team, and two trips to world championships, Whitehorse’s David Greer has decided to hang up his skis.
The 23-year-old cross-country skier announced last week he is retiring from competition to focus on other interests and a future outside of skiing.
“It wasn’t an easy decision,” said Greer. “There wasn’t one distinct reason, it was a few things together. One of them was because there isn’t much support in the Canadian ski system for someone my age in my situation right now. You have to be on the national team to get any kind of support or funding.
“I knew that coming into the year that’s how the system works, so I had to have a good year to get on the national team. And I did have a good year; I had my best year ever.
“I knew I had a shot at making the national team, but it turns out I didn’t.”
Greer is going out on a high note following a great season, which was his first as a skier in the open senior men’s division.
Greer won two medals at the 2013 Haywood Ski Nationals in B.C.‘s Whistler Olympic Park at the end of March.
He finished third overall, but was the second Canadian, in the 15-kilometre classic to take silver.
Greer and Yukon teammate Knute Johnsgaard won the silver in the team sprint on opening day.
Greer also took seventh in the open men’s sprint and 10-kilometre free, to place fourth in the senior men’s aggregate division.
Before the nationals Greer won two bronze on the Haywood NorAm circuit. He captured bronze in open men’s 15-kilometre race in Canmore early in the season to secure a spot at his first world cup later in the month.
At the Alberta World Cup – also in Canmore – Greer skied to 47th in the 15-kilometre classic and 51st place in the 30-kilometre skiathlon.
“Those two races were my first and only, I guess, world cup races, which was pretty special,” said Greer. “I didn’t have the best performances of my life, but it was still pretty special to get on that start line, racing all the top guys in the world.”
Greer also travelled south of the border to compete at the Tour de Twin Cities, which is part of the U.S.‘s Super Tour, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Greer beat out 126 skiers to take bronze in the men’s 20-kilometre classic in January.
All of those results indicate a promising future, but not only was Greer passed over for Canada’s national team, Cross Country Canada also decided he would no longer receive national funding as a carded athlete.
“It would have been hard to come up with enough money for another ski season,” said Greer. “Skiing is rather expensive with equipment, travel and stuff.”
To compete well at the national or international level, training becomes a full-time job and leaves little time and energy to hold a job on the side, said Greer.
“You can work a little bit, like in the spring, but in the summer, when you’re going all-out, you’re training at least two or three hours a day (with) pretty hard workouts and you’re pretty fried after that.
“Training is a huge commitment and takes up all your time.”
Greer went double poling into his competitive career. In his first season following high school Greer won gold at the 2007 Canada Winter Games (in Whitehorse) in the 10-kilometre classic and won bronze in a relay.
He went on to win two gold and two silver at the Haywood nationals that same year.
Those results prompted a move to Quebec’s Pierre Harvey Training Centre where he would train for five seasons.
Greer would go on to represent Canada at the 2009 World Junior Championships in Praz de Lys, France, taking in two top-25 results.
He was back on the international scene at the 2012 U23 Championships in Erzurum, Turkey, placing 35th in the skiathlon and 36th in the 15-kilometre classic.
“It didn’t go very well, I was sick, but it was still an amazing experience,” said Greer, who hopes to go back to school in the fall.
“I have a couple trades I’m looking at, there are a couple programs I’m looking at, at some technical schools.
“Over the past year I’ve been getting into other things – I have other interests too,” he added. “This past summer was super fun being in Whitehorse, I got to do lots of stuff I wasn’t able to do living in Quebec for several years.
“I’m looking forward to starting something new.”
Greer helped found the Yukon Elite Squad, a five-person Whitehorse-based team that allowed him to train in his hometown. But Greer is not the only Y.E.S. member the team is losing. Fabian Brook and John Parry have also decided to leave competitive skiing to pursue other interests, said Greer.
“I’ve always said I wanted to keep skiing as long as I was on track to being competitive at an international level, which I was starting to realize might not happen,” said Greer. “I’m sure I could keep improving and get on to the national team and represent Canada at the world championships, maybe even the Olympics, but that would still be a long way down the road with a lot more time to commit. Then I’d have to go to university and start all over.
“For someone in my situation, there not many open doors left for skiing full time in Canada. I figured everyone has to get out at some point, so I might as well get on with the rest of my life while I’m still somewhat young.”
The Yukon Ski Team shouldn’t be totally Greer-less next season. David’s sister Janelle, a former member of the national junior team, plans to return to competitive skiing after missing almost all of last season with an injury.
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