It’s hard to imagine someone 14-years-old could be considered a veteran of anything but Bailey Johnson fits the mould when it comes to the sport of cross country skiing.
“I was on skis before I could even walk,” said the Grade 9 student at Hunting Hills High School. “At first I was pulled along by my dad and then I would shuffle along a little bit.”
She admits it wasn’t love at first sight but after sticking with it she began to get a feel for the sport and started taking more steps towards being a more competitive skier which increased her fondness for skiing.
Over the years Bailey has been involved in the City-wide school cross country loppet at River Bend Golf Course as well as other non-competitive events but a few years ago she found herself in her first Alberta Cup race, up against girls from all around the province.
She did manage to do very well in her age category and says she made it to the final in the skate sprint event but she didn’t even know she had accomplished that feat.
“I was racing along and someone yelled at me ‘you’re in the finals’ and I ended up getting second in that race,” she said.
Now that she has a much better idea of what this racing thing is all about Bailey says she still loves to put her skis on but admits she has to now put in the time and effort in order to keep rising in the ranks.
“I used to not do any ski specific training in the summer but I’ve kind of stepped that up this year and this year I’m trying to get on the Alberta development team again and I’m hoping to win the aggregate title for my age group in the province.”
The Alberta development team, which she is currently on this year, allows her to attend camps where you get the World Cup Academy coaching and train with skiers at the same level you’re at along with some others skiing at a higher level, she said.
“We had two camps, one in the summer and another at the start of the ski season.”
If you wonder if Bailey is taking this sport seriously you need only to look at her training schedule to see she’s very much dedicated to getting to the top of her sport.
“I usually go six days a week and Saturdays and Sundays are kind of my long distance days and I do two hours a day usually,” she said. “And in the summer I would roller ski and also did cross country running.”
During the season Bailey says her training is geared more towards building a base for long distance and then as the year rolls on the training changes towards more speed.
She recently qualified to represent the zone at the Alberta Winter Games in Canmore and Banff, the hub for cross country skiing in this province but she admits the long term goal for her isn’t really on the radar at this point.
“I’m not sure if I’m quite the Olympic type so I’m just kind of going with it and I guess year by year I’ll kind of see what my goals are.”
I think it’s safe to say when she figures that out she will put all her effort into getting there as fast as she can.