It may seem like a long way off, but already Tristan Walker has the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics on his mind.
Coming off what he views as a season of disappointing finishes, the Olympic silver medallist luger says a major upgrade in equipment is needed to remain a threat.
"To be honest, it was a little disappointing," says Walker. "It didn't feel like the results were reflecting our performances."
"Everything that was in our hands to have a good race was executed pretty well, but our equipment has fallen behind these days. There have been a couple of countries that made a jump in the R&D with their tech. We don't feel the results of the end of the race aren't reflecting the quality of our performances."
Enough of an upgrade was made for the last Olympics to enable Canada's relay team win silver. Walker and his doubles partner Justin Snith were part of that performance.
"It was a new version of old technology, and that stuff has fallen behind right now. I feel like we've been really stagnating on the development of the technology, and it's costing us results right now."
The root of the challenge is funding, not only for equipment development and staff but helping athletes financially survive their commitment to representing Canada on the world stage.
There's a high cost of maintaining a 5,000 calorie daily diet while training and competing, plus everyday expenses like rent. As well, the athletes are provided little to help them transition to new careers at the end of their Olympic careers. Walker says the 2020 Olympics will be his last before he pursues a career as a helicopter pilot.
"I'm trying to get financial support for not just my athletic career, but the second step of life to get a "real job" once I'm done being an athlete. By 2022, I will have put 20 years into my sporting career. If was a cop, I'd have a pension."
They have had some major sponsors come forward but are seeking more.
Those wishing to help our Olympian luger can contact Tristan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
He continues to be concerned about how the closure of Calgary's Olympic park track will impact future national teams.
"The real problem is there's a novice team and development team full of kids that will never get to the national team level because they don't have a track to slide on."
While the Whistler (B.C.) Sliding Centre has quality facilities, there's not enough young athletes to make it a functional grassroots program.
"We still have some, but for the program to be strong in the future, the track in Calgary is imperative."
The COVID-19 pandemic hasn't had an impact on his training so far. It came after the end of their season, and right now he's in rest and recovery mode. It's now a wait and see approach to whether they will return to training as scheduled on Apr. 6.
No matter what, Walker and Snith are both determined to do their best in their final Olympic appearance.
"We will be pushing to be the best athletes we can, and represent Canada the best we can at the 2022 Olympics."