For one local ski racer, dreams of successfully competing in world-class events have come true.
Just named to the Canadian World Championship team, Sasha Zaitsoff is competing in the World Alpine Skiing Championships currently going on in Schladming, Austria.
Zaitsoff is in his second season on the Canadian Alpine Ski Team with four World Cup starts in Levi, Zagreb, Adelboden and Wengen.
Last month, the 22-year-old had his best finish in a World Cup to date tying with veteran teammate Julien Cousineau for 39th in the first run of the men’s slalom. The top 30 skiers advance.
“Obviously, he hasn’t qualified (for a second run) yet but he skied better than I’ve seen him ski in a World Cup,” says head coach Pete Bosinger at the Alpine Canada website. “I think he’s gaining confidence and that was certainly something I could take away from today.”
Zaitsoff says despite spending his early years on the prairies, he knew he was destined to become a skier.
“My first experiences sliding on snow were as a cross-country jack rabbit,” he says at sashazaitsoff.com.
Mountains were in his future as his family moved to Fernie and he started downhill skiing in the Nancy Greene program.
“I have a lot of fond memories of skiing in Fernie. I was blessed as a young ski racer to have good coaches and a great group of friends. They both helped fuel my love and passion for skiing,” he says.
When Zaitsoff was 12, he arrived in the Kootenays with his family who settled in Queens Bay. Joining the Red Mountain Racers, he raced FIS for two years before the BC Provincial Team picked him up. With sights set on joining the National Team, he achieved his “life long goal” in 2011.
Zaitsoff made his World Cup debut in Adelboden, Switzerland in 2011 and this January 13 run was his seventh start. His best prior result was 47th-place first run finishes last season in Adelboden and Schladming.
He has 17 top-10 results at the North American level in super combined, super-G, giant slalom and slalom. On December 15, at the North American Cup in Panorama, he placed fourth — just .07 seconds from a spot on the podium.
The World Alpine Skiing Championships continue until February 17.