It has been a strong start to the season for the Red Deer Ski Club.
The City’s foremost downhill and alpine skiing organization have seen good results since the start of the season.
“The season’s been great,” said Alpine Chair Rochelle Oakes.
According to Oakes, this year’s skiing season got off to a bit of a slow start due to the unusually warm temperatures that Central Alberta experienced in early December, but the Club has persevered and was excited to hit the slopes in the New Year.
“We had a little bit of a late start with Mother Nature. Everybody loves the warm weather but, for us, we want cold and snow,” she laughed.
The Red Deer Ski Club is affiliated with Alberta Alpine which has a mandate to teach alpine ski racing to youth.
“So whether they want to go into a more competitive environment or if they just want to learn to be strong skiers, we specialize in alpine skiing,” Oakes said.
In contrast to most freestyle skiing events, such as moguls and half pipe, which are scored events, alpine skiing tends to focus more on having the fastest time through a course.
“All the ages from five to 18, there are different races throughout the province that we can go to. They’ll range from, for the younger guys, just a standard race and as they get older they’ll specialize in slalom, the giant slalom and the Super G,” Oakes said, adding as skiers get older, the different disciplines really start to become more prevalent.
“And for the younger kids, they’ll just learn ski racing and the gates in a controlled, safe environment.”
Oakes said downhill skiing appeals to many different kinds of people because of how exciting it is.
“It’s a very exciting sport because it offers not only individual achievement, but also with an aspect of a team environment, so each child gets their opportunity to have their moment to shine but then they’re also with teammates where they get to cheer on each other and have that camaraderie with a team,” Oakes said, adding the Club’s programs can be for anyone.
“It’s a life-long skill. So, like I said, whether you want to aspire to be a World Cup champion or if you just want to have really strong skiing skills, it carries you through life, because they do become very strong and technically-skilled skiers.”
Oakes also said that the Club offers a recreational program all the way up to competitive races within the Provincial Mountain Series under Alberta Alpine.
“What that means is if you just want to sign up to do regular training with the Club, you can. Races are completely optional within our program.”
Since the beginning of January, the Club’s competitive skiers have found themselves smack in the middle of race season.
“In the past, Red Deer has pulled out some really strong ski racers who have been competitive in the provincial series, so we’re very proud of the skiers that have come out of the Red Deer Ski Club.”
This weekend, the Club will be hosting a provincial race out at Canyon Ski Resort in Red Deer and Oakes encourages anyone who is interested in alpine skiing to attend.
“If people are curious to see what a typical race is like, or what alpine racing is all about, on Jan. 23rd and 24th we host a provincial race for ages 10 and 11. So there’s athletes from all over the province that come to that and it is really a big, fun, exciting event.”
The races kick off on Saturday morning at Canyon and run through the weekend.