Freestyle skier Megan Cressey has been skiing pretty much since she could walk.
The 19-year-old from Sylvan Lake started competing in Grade 6.
So it’s no surprise she will be ticking the 2019 Canada Winter Games off her list come February.
“I want to put on a good show,” she says, adding the pressure is on because the Games is taking place so close to home. “I’m really looking forward to it.”
In 2018, the qualifying year for the Games, Cressey was at the top of her game, competing in some of Canada’s top skiing competitions.
At the World Cup last March, she scored a 71.80 on her final jump in the big air competition, taking home bronze.
Before that, she came second in the Aspen Big Air competition. She also won the Toyo Cup in the slopestyle standings last December.
The national multi-sport competition, which takes place from Feb. 15th to March 3rd, is a unique opportunity for young athletes, she says.
“In all other competitions, you show up with your team and you ski for two days and you go home. This is going to be much more of a memory than just another ski competition,” she says.
Freestyle skiing involves performing aerial flips and spins as well as sliding down rails and boxes. It can be stressful and difficult to prepare for mentally.
Cressey says she tends to put a lot of pressure on herself before a competition. To overcome that challenge, she sees a sports psychologist – something many athletes find useful to control anxiety.
“I want to ski my best so it just helps me focus on how I am doing this for fun and it is what I love. It takes the pressure off me thinking I’ve got to be in the top five. It’s really important to me to be able to settle my thoughts.”
Since the jumps have been set up at WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park, Cressey has been practicing.
“Every course we go to is different because every hill is different. The jump is different, the rails are different, the snow texture is different, the speed is different,” she said. “We show up and then we have to figure out the speed for the jumps and what tricks we can do on the jumps.
She added, “A lot of the time we know if it is going to be a two-jump or three-jump course so we try and plan a run of tricks that we can do, but you really don’t know until you get to the course and ski it. That’s when you tell yourself, I can do this trick on this jump, that on this.”
Cressey graduated from H.J. Cody School last year and is skiing full-time with her team, Alberta Park and Pipe, in Calgary.
She has a rigorous schedule, training five days a week.
After the Games, she has big plans.
“I’m hoping to ski in the World Cup in Quebec this year again and then hoping to be on the World Cup circuit and skiing around the world.”