Freestyle skiers in Red Deer are anxiously awaiting the time when they can finally hit the slopes this winter.
The Central Alberta Freestyle Ski Club (CAFSC) have been practicing all year round as they prepare for a busy season of competition this year.
“We’re well underway developing our program. We run about 10 months of the year, so we’ve already commenced our full training for our higher level athletes in preparation for snow and we’re anxiously waiting snow to get going,” said CAFSC President Greg Sikora.
“We’ll be hosting some early camps in Apex, but other than that we’ll be waiting for Canyon and the local ski hills to get ready.”
According to Sikora, local skiers are already turning an eye towards the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer and the opportunities that will provide for them to compete against the best in the country.
“The push, like any higher level sport, starts many years in preparation. So it’s not uncommon for athletes to start three to four years prior in development so that they reach that apex when the Games are here,” he said.
For Red Deer skiers, that means many long hours spent on the trampolines, in the water at the practice jump at Three Mile Bend and on the snow at Canyon Ski Resort.
“The freestyle umbrella consists of, primarily four different disciplines. One is moguls, the second is slope style, half pipe and big air. Athletes may compete in many disciplines or in just one alone, so they’ll focus and hone their skills and get them to that level that they need to be at in order to compete at that level for the Games.”
That could mean spending as many as four days a week practicing, including three days on snow and one on trampolines.
“Part of the big program is all about safety and muscle memory. It’s all about progressive skill development. Trampolines will set the skill initially. It turns the body awareness into air sense. Then they move from the trampoline to the water ramps and then onto the snow,” Sikora explained, adding that because of this process, athletes will never start learning a jump on snow.
Unfortunately, due to the lack of snow early in the winter months this year, the club has been running a little behind in its planned training schedule.
“As soon as Canyon gets up and running we’ll be running as well. Typically around the middle of December we get our mogul run built for Christmas and then we’re into full throws of programs and competitions,” said Sikora.
There is still time for anyone interested in getting involved with freestyle skiing and the CAFSA to get involved with the sport.
“We offer the three levels – the Jumps and Bumps, the Freestylerz and the Freestyle program and the Jumps and Bumps actually starts in January, in the New Year and the Freestylerz starts, similarly, a little bit into December.
“There’s plenty of opportunity for newer athletes to start with the program even if they do get started in January.”