One-on-One with Valérie Maltais


PEPPERMINT is proud to count among its ambassadors an inspiring athlete: Valérie Maltais, speed skater on the Canadian team. Having started her Olympic career in 2010 at the Vancouver Games, Valérie is now in preparation to secure her place at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.



Describe yourself briefly. 

I’ve been turning in circles for more than 25 years now with speed skating being a part of my life since I am 6 years old. Now, at 31, my passion is defined not only by the sport, but by physical activity as a whole. After my third Olympic Games in Pyeongchang in 2018, I transitioned from short track speed skating to long track speed skating. I needed new challenges, a change of scene, but always with the same goal to be part of the elite and to reach the podium in this new discipline. 

Apart from sports, I define myself as a foodie and I love cooking, gardening and communications. My favourite meal is breakfast and my go-to food is a banana. During my free time, you’ll find me in the kitchen, in secondhand stores or outside with a book. 

I completed a technique in dietetics at Collège de Maisonneuve and I’m now doing public relations classes to complete a Bachelor of Arts at TÉLUQ University. 


The last year and a half has been difficult for many high-level athletes. What has been the most difficult part of you? 

What I found most difficult was uncertainty. I like to have my goals and schedule planned out in the short and medium terms. During the last year, thanks to my long-term objectives (the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing), I was able to continue my training with what was available with a good attitude, but there were still moments of discouragement and lack of motivation. Sometimes, my training was more for my mental health than working towards my physical goals. Confidence, visualizations, resilience and schedule uncertainty were all things I had to learn to deal with as an athlete but also as a person. In January and February 2021, we had the chance to participate in three competitions. These competitions were like exams for which I had studied a lot. Everything went well and in the end, I can say that my 2020-2021 season was positive. 


Knowing that speed skating is your #1 sport, what place does cycling have in your life?

Cycling is an integral part of my training program. I train twice a day, 5 or 6 times a week, and 3 to 4 of these training sessions are on ice. The majority of my other training sessions are spent on my bike. With the pandemic, I accumulated more than 10 000 km riding last season. 



The pandemic has interrupted your training on ice for several months, what were your alternatives?

In addition to the closure of arenas and gyms, the ring's refrigeration system in Calgary was broken from September 2020 to June 2021, so I ended up doing a lot of training sessions on my bike. According to the sanitary measures of our sports federation, we weren’t allowed to ride in groups, but since January 2021, life is getting back to normal and it really does feel good. In “zones 1-2”, we are now allowed to ride in groups. In general, we ride for approximately 3h and stop for a coffee. Two to three times a week, I also do interval training, which is prescribed according to my FTP, during which I have to follow a wattage ratio. 

What are the benefits of these solo rides, but also of these team rides?

I like solo training sessions on my bike, because it's during these that I can concentrate on my gains. During group rides, it is fun to talk, stop for a coffee and accumulate the kilometres. It also allows the team to spend time together, even if everyone is not at the same level. 

What is your biggest cycling accomplishment? What are you most proud of?

I went on a bike tour in Mexico with my boyfriend a few years ago. We completed a 5-day itinerary in the mountains starting from Puerto Vallarta. It was a challenge, with 4 to 6 hours of cycling scheduled every day. An extraordinary adventure that I would do again anytime!

Did cycling teach you a lesson, if so, what is it?

It took me a while to like cycling and be comfortable on my bike. Cycling taught me that to be comfortable, you need to plan. Plan your ride, your water and food, and don’t skip on the fitting of your bike if you want to avoid injuries. Also, it is important to wear comfortable clothes and to bring layers so you’re never too cold nor too warm. 

credits: @DaveHollandpics

What are your projects for 2021-22?

My ultimate project is to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

What motivates you to always keep going forward? 

To stay motivated, I set myself goals to achieve in the short, medium and long term.

What advice would you give to a girl who has just started cycling? 

  • Make sure you get fitted on your bike and that you are comfortable. If your back, neck or even knee hurts, don’t tell yourself that it is normal and that you simply have to get used to your bike.
  • Ride with people that are the same level as you (especially when you start). 
  • Treat yourself with a pair of PEPPERMINT Bib Shorts.

Why are you part of the PEPPERMINT collective? What drew you towards PEPPERMINT?

I am part of the PEPPERMINT collective because I love the values the brand promotes. By being an ambassador, I get to make the colours of a proudly Quebecois company shine, while sharing my passion for physical activity. Plus, their products are simply the most comfortable!


To conclude, what is your favourite SS21 PEPPERMINT products?

My favourite products from the SS21 collection are the Crystalized Black Bib and the Petals Forest Signature Jersey.

credits: @DaveHollandpics


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