By Sam Cortes, Communications Coordinator
With these events featuring everything from jumps, twists, and flips with grabs, this sport is in no shortage of excitement and intensity.
“There’s music playing in the background, people are at the bottom [of the hill], cheering,” said Head Coach Blake Grist. “ It’s easy to pick up on. Obviously you might not know the tricks, but anybody who can watch you can tell who the best athletes are, what’s going on, because it’s super exciting to watch. [The athletes] are hitting big jumps quite fast.”
A Year-Round Sport
Blake, who has been coaching freestyle skiing since 2016, took his athletes to Whistler this past summer to train for six days.
“Some things people may not know is freestyle skiing is kind of a year-round sport,” said Blake.
They undergo trampoline and water ramp training, where the athletes take the jumps and land in a pool. Using these methods, they can exercise their acrobatic skills before moving on to snow.
“We [also] went to Maximise, an hour outside of Montreal, and it’s a giant, 250-feet airbag,” said Blake. “That’s a big way that skiing has progressed over these years, is air bags. So you can try new tricks, and that way when you go do them on snow the first time, it’s a lot safer.”
Representing Team Toba
A roster of seven athletes will represent Manitoba in PEI in February. And even though it’s a relatively small province, Blake said their reputation stands out.
“I think our athletes maintain a positive attitude at these competitions. And that’s something other provinces have noticed about us. That we’re a really positive bunch and it’s fun to work with us, and that nobody gets on each other in terms of a negative way. Our athletes are supportive,” said Blake.
Freestyle skiers don’t have to stop progressing along the performance pathway after the Canada Games are over, either.
There are lots of opportunities ahead, including NorAm competitions, junior worlds, and the world cup for the Olympics.
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