Whitewater Ski Team has struggled in years past to maintain a roster of older athletes, particularly in the under-16 category. That struggle has come to an end this year, with eight racers on the squad — the largest in 20 years.
The commitment required to compete at this level far exceeds that of the younger age groups, with dry land workouts commencing in September, followed in November by four days a week on the snow.
In addition to the physical demands, there are several other concerns that come into play: keeping up with schoolwork, accepting the responsibility of being the senior members and role models on a larger team, and being on the road at races for several weeks per season.
This season, the team travelled to Sun Peaks and Red Mountain for provincial slalom and giant slalom events, and then onto Whistler for their first ever speed event, the super-G.
Henry Leishman placed 13th in the Sun Peaks slalom, Yael Oosthuizen grabbed 16th at Red Mountain slalom, and Arlo Henderson finished 19th for giant slalom at Red.
Cracking the top 20 at these events is an achievement at any age, but especially for these younger athletes, who are all first-year racers in their category.
“This is the fastest team Whitewater has had in many, many years,” said head coach Dylan Henderson. “That feels pretty good.”
Henderson and Leishman were also chosen to attend the Mike and Manny training camp — a prestigious opportunity that accepts only 12 athletes per year from across Canada.
“Mike Janyk is a former Canadian Alpine Team member, and he helps choose the participants in this camp,” said Dylan Henderson.
“He was very open about what he saw as an abundance of heart, soul, and character on our Whitewater team. As a head coach, that’s the highest compliment we could possibly receive.”