Beijing 2022 silver medal the latest achievement for Grondin
Eliot Grondin has an impressive resume for a 20-year-old.
The Sainte-Marie, QC native became the youngest ever medallist in snowboard cross when he raced to a bronze medal at last year’s world championships. A month later he claimed world junior gold, a first for a Canadian man. On top of that, Grondin earned his first World Cup victory, helping him finish last season ranked second overall in the men’s standings.
Grondin can now add Olympic silver medalist to his growing list of accomplishments — and he had a lot of fun in doing so.
“I was smiling all day, I woke up smiling, I was having fun,” Grondin said not long after claiming silver in men’s snowboard cross at Beijing 2022. “My goal today was just to enjoy every moment I could. Every time I came out of the start gate, I had fun. My key word for the day was: have fun. The word fun means many things to me and by managing to do that all day, that’s how I got this far.”
Grondin came up just short of gold — 0.2 seconds short, to be exact — in the big final. Grondin was leading in the first half of the race but was overtaken by Alessandro Hammerle of Austria near the midway mark. Grondin closed the gap in the final stretch, resulting in a photo finish.
The Canadian had the best time in qualifying. After winning his 1/8 heat, Grondin easily won his quarterfinal, building a big lead early and holding it throughout.
In the semifinals, Grondin once again built an early lead. Hammerle made a late push but the Canadian was able to hold off the Austrian.
“It happened really fast,” Grondin said about the day’s races. “I think I controlled the races really well. To manage to be at the front practically all day was not easy. It was very windy up there. For sure there was great drafting (behind me) and to block the lines and manage to stay in front, it was a good feeling.”
Despite beating Hammerle in the semis, Grondin knew he would face a tough test in the final. The two have gotten to know each other very well in recent years, developing a close relationship.
“Just to share the podium with Alessandro is amazing,” said the Canadian.
“He played a big part in my career and earlier this season we spent a lot of time in Europe. It gets harder mentally, and he just invited me over for a night, cooking food. He’s just a good friend of mine and to be able to battle a few rounds with him and be super tight and super clean racing is so fun. I’m so proud to be sharing those moments with those guys.”
Despite his young age, Beijing 2022 is Grondin’s second Games. He finished 36th in snowboard cross at PyeongChang 2018 when he was the youngest man and second-youngest athlete on all of Team Canada.
While happy with silver, Grondin is still hungry for gold.
“When I say something, I usually want to achieve it, and when I was 12, I said that I wanted to win the Olympics. I got silver today, so for sure I’m going to keep pushing and trying to get that gold at the next one.”