Until the age of 10, skiers in the Nancy Greene Program train and race in groups, combining personal times into a collective result that emphasizes the team over the individual. Every athlete goes home with a ribbon for their efforts, with fun and sportsmanship being the main priorities.
At the under-12 level, this philosophy begins to merge with the more competitive focus of the Teck Provincial Race Series, becoming the classic vision of three people standing triumphantly upon a podium, wreathed in medals, their victories separated from the masses by mere seconds.
For Whitewater Ski Team’s 19 U12 athletes, this transitional period signifies an important coming of age. Racers at this level are allowed to straddle the line between the two worlds, continuing to compete as a team in Nancy Greene while also getting a taste of individual victory and defeat at a higher level. It’s an important time for coaches as well, who are tasked not only with increasing the technical prowess of their roster, but also with ensuring that the racers learn to win and lose gracefully.
These increased responsibilities come with rewards, however, with the Whitewater U12 squad travelling this winter from familiar Kootenay Zone events, where they regularly inhabit the podium, out to new locales and a wider competitive pool. From the provincial GS series in Kimberley, to skier cross in Fernie, and on to the provincial zone finals in April, the U12 team is getting a first glimpse into the bigger picture among the toughest competitors from B.C. and Alberta. Thus far, Whitewater U12 has proven up to the task, with several hard won podium appearances already this season.
But it’s not all training and competitive drive. With increased commitment comes bigger fun: road trips, team dinners, hotels, and perhaps most importantly, the chance to don a skin tight technicolor speed suit for the first time makes the hard work worthwhile.