Nelson’s Trace Cooke has made it to the big leagues in the freeskiing world. His standings in the Freeride World Qualifiers have earned him a place in the 2016 Freeride World Tour. It’s a dream come true for the 19-year-old as this officially means he’s a skiing professional.
“It hasn’t really hit me yet,” Cooke said. “A couple times I’ve got a whole bunch of energy, even crying and excited talking with my parents. I feel like its really going to hit me when I get the start list for the 2016 world tour.”
While Cooke is waiting for the official invite, his FWQ points have placed him third in the North American region, earning him a place on the 2016 Freeride World Tour.
Overall his FWQ standings have him ranked eighth out of 591 skiers.
Cooke’s last two competitions at Crested Butte, USA and Wrangle the Chute in Golden, launched him ahead with a total of 2690 points. Cooke and his parents calculated that he would need a seventh place and a podium finish between the two.
When he placed seventh at Crested Butte, the pressure was on.
He recounted the his last qualifying competition in Golden, which was fairly close to home compared to the competitions that have taken him across Europe and to the US this season.
He came in third on day 1 at Golden with two American competitors also vying for a top three in the FWQ.
On day two he had it in his head that he really had to do well so he put together two “really scary lines”.
“For me, when I know I have a good line, I’m nervous at the top… and I was way more nervous at these two comps than I have ever been. I landed a 360 that lots of people tried but I was the only one to land on my feet.
“Wrangle was the best two best competition runs I’ve ever skied,” Cooke said. “The line score and the big 360s and stuff that I did…compared to other comps, there was no holding back. I really went for it, I gave it my all.”
Cooke in the middle of a 360 at Wrangle the Chute.
“I took off a meter up from where my ski tails are,” said Cooke calmy, “and landed just past the little trees on the landing to the lookers left of the trees… I would say [the drop was] about 35 feet, around 40 with the travel out.”
His roommates and buddies were there to watch as they haven’t been able to see him compete in two years because he has been competing overseas.
“And I got exactly second…but then I had to wait a whole day for them to put in my actual scores to be sure that I actually got the points I needed to make the world tour.”
He kept vigil at the computer, checking his and other competitors standings, refreshing the qualifier website over and over, until he fell asleep in front of the screen. He woke up Monday morning to a litany of online congratulations from friends he had met at the competitions over the past two years.
He had made it.
“It came down to the last little point,” he said.
And he may be the only Canadian in the male ski category on the tour.
Cooke and the two Americans, Max Durtschi and Martin Lentz, will all be 20 once the tour begins.
“I think we may be the three youngest skiers to qualify,” he said, “which just goes to show how much the sport is becoming a younger atmosphere and the stronger skiers are coming out of the juniors because of how good the competition is.”
Overall he said the season was a difficult one due to many weather days in Europe. Avalanche conditions were touchy at times too with a lot of wind loading, but he said the officials did a good job waiting so they could pull all the competitions off safely.
The FWT will begin in Chamonix, France around mid January 2016.
Until then Cooke plans on staying fit and tree planting through the working season. He has set up a personal trainer again, which he started last summer. Training will begin with rehab from this season, then focusing on leg and core strengthening, and building up “every ski muscle” he needs to be 100 per cent.
He has been waiting for a couple years to be able to own the title of a professional skier, and now he can. With that means professional sponsorship.
Now is the time that he may gain new sponsorship and his current ones should restock his equipment which he said was badly needed after a low snow year. Budgeting for next winter’s world tour is also key as it will require extensive travelling in Europe.
Among Cooke’s current sponsors, he emphasized that Ian McAdams from The Village Ski Hut in Nelson has been a huge help.
“He gave me a pair of his own personal skis to ride on for Wrangle the Chute. He has tuned my skis for free and, since I’ve started these competitions, he has been my biggest sponsor every step of the way.”
To learn more, visit tracecooke.com.