Hall of Famer
In an impressive career teaching skiing and coaching ski racing for over four decades that helped produce an entire generation of championship-calibre skiers from the Laurentians and Québec, Conrad Guay’s influence goes well beyond the enormous successes of his children.
Conrad learned to ski in his early-teen years, on the slopes of Rougement ski area, and when his family moved to Montreal he tested his early skills on “Morgan Hill” – a small ski slope located where the Olympic stadium now stands. He quickly formed friendships with many skiers – such as Bernard Trottier and René Beauchamp – and many other who became lifelong friends.
Conrad joined Montreal’s Club de Ski and trained more regularly to fine tune his technique. He studied at Saint-Laurent College and continued with skiing and other sports, particularly hockey. During this time he trained to become a firefighter, a rigorous job which required high physical fitness. In the winter of 1961, Conrad’s friend Bernard became the ski school director at Villa-Bellevue, Mont Tremblant. Conrad joined as his assistant, teaching skiing during the day and returning to Montreal after skiing to resume his regular job as a firefighter.
Bernard and Conrad had an agreement with the legendary Ernie McCulloch (Canadian Ski Hall of Fame, Class of 1984) while at Mont Tremblant during that time to focus their ski instruction efforts on the north side of the area, servicing clients from several smaller hotels, such as Manoir Pinoteau.
Conrad became involved in ski racing around that time, winning his first race at Mont Alouette – alongside Pierrette Trottier (Bernard’s wife) who was the women’s race winner that day. Conrad went on to race in the pro circuit several times, which featured a dual slalom with two large jumps in the mid section, and proved to be a popular spectator sport.
When Conrad met and married Ellen and started a family in Mont Tremblant, he was hired as the director of the Mont Tremblant Snow School, a position he held from 1973 to 1989. During that time, Conrad was a teacher of skiing but also a student, always analyzing the evolving techniques and watching the sport of ski racing closely. In the winter of 1969, Conrad took on a role as a technician for Lange and for Dynamic skis, and joined the national ski team on the World Cup circuit that season.
Conrad eventually moved into ski race coaching, partly to focus on his three boys –Kristian, Stefan and Erik – all who went on to remarkable skiing careers in their own rights, in particular Erik who was a two-time world champion and 25-time World Cup medallist. But Conrad’s coaching efforts with his boys and many others he coached was to de-emphasize outcomes and focus on the enjoyment of learning and the process, and on the joy of skiing in the mountains.
Conrad first became the head coach of the Mont Tremblant ski club from 1991 to ’93, then the head coach of the Laurentian zone team in the mid-1990s, then to the Quebec ski team in the late 90s, working with skiers such as Jean-Philippe Roy, François Bourque, Geneviève Simard, Julien Cousineau, Anna Goodman, Thomas Rinfret, Brigitte Acton and Julie Langevin – all whom went on to successful World Cup careers. Conrad then spent one season as a national ski team coach in 1999.
According to those close to him, Conrad’s coaching style was unique. He was a student of the sport, always analyzing ways to find an advantage or how to perfect a skill. His coaching style was to empower his students to control things on their own. It was an approach to coaching that was different than the more direct style that other coaches employed.
Dan Lavallée, the longtime director of Ski Quebec Alpin said, “he was as passionate as he was controversial in his style of coaching. He got the results, his athletes did well and they produced. He also was the first one to give credit to others. With Erik he gave credit to his U10 coach [downplaying his own coaching influence] and allowed Erik to just enjoy the mountain … you don’t see that enough these days.”
At Mont Tremblant, across Quebec and the country, Conrad is considered legendary and his influence now continues with eight granddaughters, many whom are actively involved with ski racing. As Erik said, “You never know where your influence ends, as I am now sharing the passion and experience that my Dad so lovingly gave me with my daughters and their teammates.”
“As my Dad coached us through provincial and to the national levels, our focus was rarely on the gates but always included free skiing and skiing in different terrains and in all types of conditions with a specific goal in mind,” said his son Erik Guay.
- Canadian Ski Instructor’s Alliance (CSIA) Hall of Fame, 1999
- Laurentian Ski Hall of Fame, 2008
- Canadian Ski Instructor’s Alliance, Level 4 Examiner
- Canadian Ski Coaches Federation, Level 3
- Director, Manoir Pinoteau Ski School, 1970-73
- Service rep, Canadian Alpine Ski Team, 1969-70
- Director, Mont Tremblant Ski School, 1973-89
- Coach, Canadian Interski Team, 1983, 1987, 1991
- Head Coach, Club de Ski Mont Tremblant 1991-93
- Coach, Canadian Alpine Ski Team, 1999
- Head Coach, Quebec Ski Team, 2001
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