SPORTS

Leman looks for financial help in pursuit of Olympic ski cross medal

10/02/2012 05:19 EDT | Updated 12/02/2012 05:12 EST
CALGARY - Brady Leman overcame "a bunch of broken legs" to become Canada's top male ski cross racer and 2014 Winter Olympic medal hopeful.

The 25-year-old Calgarian hopes his financial profile catches up with his international results soon.

"I'm still living in my parents' house right now and trying for years to get out of there," Leman said. "I just haven't been able to make enough money to support myself yet.

"I'm not trying to get rich. I just want to be able to support myself and compete for Canada."

Ski cross involves four skiers racing each other down a course of bumps and jumps. The first one over the finish line wins. The sport made its Olympic debut in 2010.

Leman finished the 2011-12 World Cup season ranked No. 2 behind overall winner Filip Flisar of Slovenia.

Leman says he distributed promotional packages to potential sponsors over the summer. The response was "cue the cricket sounds."

The Canadian won last year's season-opener in his first World Cup race in a year and a half. He battled for the overall crown all season.

"Last year went better than I thought and better than a lot of people would have hoped," Leman said.

Leman broke the same bone in his leg three times starting in March, 2009.

He was named to Canada's 2010 Olympic team as a replacement for an injured skier. Lehman had to withdraw because of the second break suffered during training for the Games.

His leg broke again in training later that year, but Leman has been healthy since surgery in December, 2010.

His post-op results quickly put him on the international map in ski cross. He's now looking for the on-ramp to Sochi, Russia, and the 2014 Olympics.

"I'm going into the season healthy and stronger and fitter than I've ever been," Leman said. "With the results should come some pretty decent exposure for myself and my sponsors, so I'll just try to find someone that really wants to partner with me, help me get to Sochi and have a chance to win a medal there."

He took business courses at Mount Royal University in the spring. Leman combined summer training with a part-time job in the RBC Olympians program to make some money.

"Life doesn't really stop to let you go to the gym for five hours a day, but you've got to make time for it," Leman explained. "For us, our Sochi prep really started this summer because this is such a huge season for us. This is the one where results, right off the bat, start to count for just qualifying for Sochi.

"You're going to have to be winning medals to go to the Olympics."

Leman is at a level where the demands of his sport leaves little time to self-promote and pursue personal sponsors. Time between now and Sochi is precious.

"RBC has been amazing," he said. "My job with them has been kind of what's kept me going for the last couple of years.

"But in a perfect world, I'd like to be just focusing on training, being able to go out and do what I need to do . . . to give myself a chance to win those races and especially the big one in 2014. It's got to be full time."

The 2012-13 World Cup season opens in Canada with races Nov. 7-8 at Nakiska Mountain Resort west of Calgary.

A World Cup victory is worth 6,500 Swiss francs. Leman says 40 per cent goes immediately to taxes and payment of his equipment's servicemen.

Obsessing about money during a race also doesn't help him go fast.

"The last thing you want to do is be cashing that paycheque in the start gate of a final," he laughed. "If you win, it's a nice payday, but if you blow it and finish fourth, it's a 10th of what you get for first."

Leman wants to replace the "For Sale" sticker on his old helmet with a company's logo.

"It would help me pay for training expense that I incur while I'm at home, like buying food and groceries, making sure I have the time to get in the gym and get my training done and not have to be running all over the place just trying to make ends meet," he said.

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