AST Athlete Journal: Julia Buehrer
I am checking in to update you on the final weeks of the season! I am writing from home as our team has just returned back from the final race of the season in Sun Peaks! It has been another busy month filled with many successes and best scores to finish the season off strong for our Alberta women.
In the past few weeks, the Women’s team has had the opportunity to work with an amazing coach who shared his experience and helped us all build our confidence. PL wrapped his season up with our Canadian girls on the world cup circuit and came to help us finish our season strong. His guidance and positivity lead us all to season bests and we are super grateful for the time we have spent with him.
One of my highlights from the past month was our ski day with the Lake Louise Ski Club. The team and I got the opportunity to spend a day filled with dual slalom, free skiing, and a whole lot of fun. I got paired up with a super eager group of U6 athletes who definitely kept me on my toes and inspired me with their fresh ambition and excitement for ski racing. Connecting with different ages and levels in our sport is so important to maintain a sense of community and I am very grateful I got the chance to spend time with the future generation of ski racing in Alberta. It was a very happy day!
After Lake Louise, I headed home for a short Easter break with my family in Edmonton. I then met my team back in Nakiska for our last home hill race. To continue the theme of the season, the weather brought some obstacles and changes in schedule but our amazing team of coaches and volunteers were able to pull off two GS and two slalom races. I approached both GS races with confidence and worked my way to second and third place. My team mate, Polly also found success as she joined me on the podium both days. The slalom was slightly less successful for the AB girls but we saw some solid skiing and I am positive we have more in the tank! The spring race in Nakiska is usually one filled with many emotions as we celebrated some of our fellow athletes’ retirements. This is a remarkable sport filled with very special people. Congratulations to all the retirees and best of luck with whatever comes next, you will always be a part of the ski racing family!
Last but not least, we were off to Sunpeaks for two days of training and what was supposed to be one day of GS racing and one day of Slalom racing. We had an incredible GS race in which the entire women’s team executed and gained their best scores of the season. Due to unforeseen weather conditions (huge shock, I know) the slalom race was canceled. Although we were disappointed in the cancellation, we are glad to have finished off the racing season on such a positive note.
As this is my last athlete journal I wanted to thank everyone who made this season possible, and so special. Coaches, teammates, sponsors, parents, and volunteers, we could not do this without you. Thank you to our sponsors, GMC Dealers of Alberta, Karbon, Mission Wealth Advisors, and Sporting Life.
Have a great summer and I will see you next season!
AST Athlete Journal: Gered Thompson
After the final race at sun peaks next week I will have had 64 race starts this season. Isn’t that crazy! I had a blast and it’s just hard to believe it’s almost over. I have just finished up the last GMC cup race of the season at Nakiska. I was able to accumulate enough points to grab the overall title for the GMC cup. my team mate Caleb brooks coming a close 2nd place, and Zoe Gray winning it for the girls. So proud of my team. It was a blast and can’t wait for next season. Thank you to our sponsors, GMC Dealers of Alberta, Karbon, Mission Wealth Advisors, and Sporting Life.
AST Athlete Journal: Polly Lang
So much has happened since I checked in my last athlete journal. I got some new personal best scores, scored my first Noram points in slalom and got a few medals out east. At Kimberly, for Canadian Nationals, I, unfortunately, did not finish the giant slalom but I skied my way to a top 10 in slalom and another score. Following Nationals we drove the journey from Panorama to Whistler for Noram finals. This was my first time in Whistler and it was fun to get some training done on Blackcomb and some freeskiing before we started racing. Although my Noram season ended with 2 Dnfs my teammates had some of their best scores and scored critical noram points. I was bummed to leave Whistler without any finishes but at least I found the best cookies I have ever tried there!
Following Whistler the team had a few days of much-needed rest and relaxation. We then headed back to Panorama to begin our spring series. The snow was some of the best I have raced on all season and held very well for all racers. I scored one of the days in GS. Despite not scoring the other 3 days of racing I definitely saw some promising skiing and some of the best skiing I have done all season. I was able to find the U19 podium for every race.
After spring series the entire team headed to Lake Louise for a ski day with the Lake Louise Ski Club. We started the morning with a group warmup and then headed down to the dual course where we were split into 8 mixed-age groups each with a different AST athlete. Then in the afternoon Makenna and I helped some future stars with some technical freeskiing and drill work. It was a super fun day and it was exciting to connect with the upcoming generation of skiers, I hope to see them someday on the Alberta Ski Team.
After a long block, we are all finally home with our families for some rest and easter festivities. The team will continue pushing to the end of the season for our last two races at Nakiska and Sun Peaks. As this is my last athlete journal I want to wish everyone well for the end of the season and extend a huge thanks to the team sponsors Sporting Life, Karbon, GMC Dealers of Alberta and Mission Wealth Advisors. And a big shoutout to Fischer, my teammates, my coaches and my parents for making this year possible and so enjoyable.
I hope everyone has had an awesome Easter with family and I wish everyone a great rest of their season!
AST Athlete Journal: Jesse Kertesz-Knight
Although nearing the end, we still have a lot of skiing and racing left before the season wraps up. I am writing today from Panorama, as we head into the annual Spring FIS Series.The boys are all skiing super well and we are really looking forward to some good snow and fast competition. We have five days of racing out here, and we are really hoping to put down some good turns and score some points!
I think now is a good time for a little update on the season, as it has been a while since I last wrote.
After my trip to Austria for World Juniors, I spent some time with my home club BAR for some well needed days of feel good training in the sun. From there we headed out east for a long block of racing which began with some FIS races in Ontario and Quebec, followed by the Eastern Nor- Am races. At the Camp Fortune Nor Am slalom, I had my best finish to date, placing 5th! This kick started my confidence, and I had another sweet score at the Tremblant slalom. Coach Pete was a legend for the boys, driving through snowstorms and being a great coach for our young crew, as we battled through the extremely tough Nor- Am competition and bad weather, prior to heading to the Canadian Champs in Kimberly. The venue at Kimberly was spectacular and although the series was shortened due to 30cm of fresh powder (which kept the parents happy,) the remaining races were held under blue skies, and spring conditions which was amazing!
The Nor Am finals were recently held in Whistler, and the boys really lit it up! Gered had his best speed results of the season, Caleb and Nathan had some unreal runs, and I wrapped up the NOR AM season with a top 15 and a 16th place in the Slalom Overall Standings!!
The Overall GMC Alberta Cup Winners will be decided mid- April at the Nakiska Series, and our race season will finally come to a close in late April, with a couple of FIS races at Sun Peaks.
Although it’s bittersweet to end the season, I’m looking forward to hitting the gym, starting training for next year, and of course I am excited to get back on the golf course!
I can’t wait to see all of you at the Quest for Gold Golf tournament on May 29th in Canmore
A million thanks to all of our coaches, sponsors and parents, most notably; Karbon, GMC Dealers of Alberta, Sporting Life, and Mission Wealth Advisors.
Have a great day and see you on the slopes!
AST Athlete Journal: Makenna Lebsack
I am currently writing to you all from the Whistler Athletes’ Centre, in beautiful British Columbia. This is my third and final Athlete Journal of the season so I am going to go back and recap the last couple of months.
In February my team and I flew down to Collingwood ON to embark on a four-week journey which consisted of 6 FIS races and 8 NorAm Cups within Ontario, Quebec, and Vermont, USA. We started at Georgian Peaks for two GS races and although I, unfortunately, got the stomach flu and was unable to race, my teammates Polly, Julia, and Zoe placed in the top 15 on both days! We then moved to another hill near Collingwood called Devils Glen where we skied on one of the iciest surfaces I have ever raced on. I managed to get a bronze medal in the overall and Polly a bronze for U19. We then packed up our gear and drove 8 hours to Quebec to race 2 FIS races at Mont Gareau and Mont La Reserve. I was not able to find the finish line in the GS race but in the SL the Alberta Team walked away with a silver medal (Polly) and bronze medal (me) along with both Polly and Zoe scoring their best points of the season!
After our last race day, we drove 4 hours to small-town Chelsea, QC, and got our skis ready to race our first Noram of the trip. The SL was held at Camp Fortune which is now one of my favorite SL venues. After the first run, I was 15th which was my best place this year but unfortunately, I made a mistake in the second run and moved back a few places. That being said, Polly and I both finished in the top 30 and scored some Noram points. The next day was held at Mont Ste-Marie where I scored my first GS Noram points. After a quick celebratory lodge poutine, we got back into the truck and drove 6 hours back to Collingwood. There we raced 4 Norams between Georgian Peaks and Osler Bluff. By this point, we were definitely feeling pretty exhausted but we all pushed through and finished strong. Although I struggled to put 2 solid runs together, I finished top 30 in each race and managed to collect some Noram points. I ended the trip off strong in Stratton, Vermont, where I got my first top 15s in both GS Noram Cups there.
As soon as I got back from Stratton there were a couple of training days at Nakiska before heading to Kimberly for Canadian Nationals. Unfortunately, two of the tech races got canceled due to weather and inconsistent snow but I wanted to take a moment to thank all the volunteers and coaches who still went up and spent so much time trying to make the races happen. Luckily, the sun eventually came out and we had two beautiful days of tech racing in the end. I took 5th place in the GS while my teammate Zoe came 10th and Julia placed 15th. I sadly did not finish the SL but the rest of the AST girls all ended in the top 20!
From Kimberly, our team was able to spend a few days training at Panorama before coming up to Whistler to prepare for our last Norams of the season; crazy to think we are almost done!
Before signing off, I wanted to again, thank my parents, all the volunteers, and sponsors that make the ski season happen: Sporting life, Karbon, GMC Dealers of Alberta, and Mission Wealth Advisors. I would also like to thank my personal sponsors Dynastar/Lange, and Shred for the sick set-up this year!
AST Athlete Journal: Caleb Brooks
Hello ski community, my name is Caleb Brooks. This is my second athlete journal. I am checking in from the airport shuttle on my way up to Whistler for the NorAm finals. The rest of the Team is driving up with coach Peter from Canmore. The boys are ready to finish the NorAm season strong! We’ve all had our ups and downs this season but I think we are all feeling good for this up coming race series. This past week, the team finished the Canadian nationals in Kimberley where the week started slow due to challenging weather conditions which led to the cancellation of the first two days of racing. That week, I managed to claim third in U19 for the superG race and shared the podium with Gered, who claimed the top spot for U19. That was very exciting! For the GS, I feel I skied one of my best runs of the season but unfortunately I was not able to finish the second run. I am happy with my SL results for that event and will keep pushing hard until the very end of the season. Jessie continues to prove once again that he’s a slalom wizard and skied very fast all week. Nathan had some pretty fast intervals with some good finishes as well. We hope that for this week at the NorAm finals, we can all step it up a notch and finish strong!
Thank you to all our amazing sponsors who help us reach our goals! Raymond James Mission Wealth Advisors, GMC Dealers of Alberta, Sporting Life, Karbon. Additionally, I would like to thank Rossignol for the gear this year.
AST Athlete Journal: Zoe Gray
Hi Ski Family! Zoe Gray here to give you another update on our season! We just got back from a month out east where we did lots of racing. We finished the camp out east with the Georgian Peaks and Oslar Bluff NorAm series. Although I didn’t put my best foot forward, my teammates did and reached the top 30; scoring some NorAm points. Throughout these races I also met up with my older sister Cassidy, who had a very successful series, walking away with two NorAm wins!
Once we returned home we had a few days off to recover before going into some much needed training. After a long racing block it felt amazing to refresh our skiing and keep building on our goals. We were lucky enough to have some beautiful days in Nakiska, where the whole team saw improvements in their skiing. In addition, we put some hours in at the gym with our amazing trainer Nate Morris, who programmed us lifts as well as beneficial recovery sessions. It is safe to say the hot and cold tubs are not Polly’s favourite.
After our successful week of training my teammate Julia and I headed to our home hill Panorama for the Linda Putnam Race! The Linda Putnam is a race that includes ages 6-12 hosted by the Panorama Ski team. This race is very close to my heart as it is a memorial to a very special women who shared her passion of skiing every day, but it was evident when she skied with her kids. The race shows how important the community of skiing is, and how all the parents, coaches, athletes, and volunteers make it possible. My mom was organizing the race, so Julia and I were able to hop in and be on the volunteer side of things for a change. Both of us worked as course crew alongside such amazing volunteers, but also had the opportunity to talk with the little guys racing. We made our way around the start and gave pep talks and high fives to every racer we could, and we got to see first hand how inspired the youth of this sport is. At the medal ceremony we were in the centre of the excitement when we handed out the medals with Cass, there was cheering from every athlete and parent regardless of what jacket the kid was wearing. It was so amazing to be apart of and as the saying goes with the Linda Putnam, SKI FOR LIFE!
Now, we are at Kimberly for the Senior Nationals racing against the other provinces and National Team athletes. We did a day of training once we arrived, and got the feel of the snow before the series started. Of course, in ski racing the weather changes drastically over night and although the volunteers put in many hours of work to run the race unfortunately the weather conditions had a different idea for today’s SG.
So, tomorrow we will be running the SG again and hoping mother nature is on the same page. Then this series will be off and pacing with the GS after and SL to follow. My team and I are excited to see where the rest of this series takes us! I wanted to extend my thanks to all my sponsors who have made this year possible, Scotia Wealth Management, Greywolf Golf Course, Fischer, Shred, Swix, as well as our team sponsors Mission Wealth Advisors, Karbon, GMC Dealers of Alberta, Sporting Life, and of course my number one fans Mum and Dad! Thank you so much for reading, and special reminder from your Linda Putnam crew SKI FOR LIFE 🙂
AST Athlete Journal: Julia Buehrer
Hello everyone! It’s Julia Buehrer again checking in from Collingwood, Ontario. I hope everyone is having an awesome season! It’s been a busy month for us over here so lots to update you on! My month started in Kimberley where the men’s team, Zoe and I had a super productive speed camp. We overcame fears, and became comfortable with the speed and terrain as we prepared for the races. The speed races definitely came with some challenges as we were met with a significant amount of snow, but the coaches and volunteers worked tirelessly to put on an awesome race. Our team had some great results and we are looking forward to being back on that track for Nationals in a few weeks!
After Kimberly we all headed home for a couple days of training before our race in Nakiska where we all found some success and shaved down our point profiles. I’m super stoked for Zoe who had an especially successful super-g series in Nakiska as she found the top of the podium both days.
We then flew to Toronto and embarked on our first of many long car rides of the trip. We first drove to Wasaga Beach where we trained and raced some GS and slalom FIS races. The rookies had some of our best scores of the season so we packed up and drove 8 hours to race at Ski La Réserve and Ski Garceau. I struggled to find the finish line in these two races however my team had major success as Polly came second with both her and Zoe gaining considerable scores.
Following these races we packed up and drove 3 hours to Chelsea where we raced two Norams. We raced against a deep field filled with many world cup athletes along with our fellow provincial team athletes whom we have been working closely with this season. We have four more Noram starts here until we head home for a couple days of much needed rest and training before we head back to Kimberly for Nationals. We have lots of racing left and I am stoked to see where the rest of the season takes us!
Another huge thank you to my supportive community, Scotia Wealth Management and personal sponsors for making this season a reality for me and Fischer for the set up!. As well as our team sponsors Sporting Life, Karbon, GMC Dealers of Alberta, and Mission Wealth Advisors.
Thanks for tuning in!
AST Athlete Journal: Polly Lang
The past month has been busy and there is so much to recap. In terms of racing January was a challenging month. At Stratton, my first norams this season, I didn’t finish either of my first runs in the slalom and the GS was cancelled. Norquay GMC cup was a difficult race for me. I put in some solid first runs but I fell on the second run everyday. One happened to be into the finish timing and the finish volunteers, so fortunately I ended that series with at least one finish. Going into the Kimberly night slalom I wasn’t feeling entirely confident in my skiing after taking many falls. My run of misfortune continued and I didn’t finish my second run. Whilst Julia and Zoe raced the DH and Super g at Kimberly Makenna, Sean and I headed down to Bridgerbowl, Montana for a university GS race.
After a rough run of races I looked at Brigerbowl as a chance to finally do some skiing I was happy with. However the conditions in Bridger were not optimal, there was zero good surface and with every racer the rut just got deeper. As I was on deck to take my shot at the course I heard the start referee say the conditions were not safe enough to run the boys. Instilled with confidence I was determined to battle through the bathtub ruts. I had underestimated how difficult the conditions were and once again did not finish. The second run ended up being cancelled after both forerunners crashed. On the bright side, that DNF does not show up on my FIS profile. They determined the conditions were not going to improve and they cancelled the second day. So Makenna, Sean and I packed quickly and left that evening. 8 hours of driving each way for nothing… Well we did get to go to target at least!
Once home we had a couple of training days to prepare for the Nakiska race. It was nice to get back to my home hill for some awesome training. The Nakiska GS races went well. I finished both! And found myself 2nd overall and 1st u19 both days, On the second day the women’s team swept the podium. Instead of doing the super g Makenna and I had some valuable days of slalom training. This training was important as it’s some of our only training before a big block out east. I am currently on a plane to Toronto. Once we land we drive to the ultimate ski destination… Collingwood. Our trip starts in Collingwood for some FIS races, then we drive to Quebec to race Mont St. Marie and Camp Fortune Norams. Then head back to Collingwood for the Georgian Peaks and Osler Bluff Norams. I am hopeful with some improvements in my skiing these Norams should go better than the last (Vermont did set a low bar). Unfortunately unlike Vermont, if the conditions take a turn and races get cancelled there won’t be a target or trader joes to explore.
As the season ramps up I would like to thank the team’s sponsors Sporting Life, Karbon, GMC Dealers of Alberta and Mission Wealth Advisors, your support has been critical in making this season possible for everyone. And a big thanks to Fischer and my main sponsors… My parents!
I hope everyone is enjoying their season so far!
AST Athlete Journal: Jesse Kertesz-Knight
Hey guys. Jesse Kertesz-knight checking in. Hope you are enjoying a great ski season so far. I am writing you today from St.Anton Austria as I am just finishing up my first World Juniors of my career.
We began our trip in Italy with some training in Pozza and some racing in San Pelegrino, then off to Austria to begin our race prep. So far I have competed in Alpine Combined, Super G, GS and Slalom. The experience here has been amazing and I will take a lot home with me. We have been here for two weeks now and as for the skiing We have some work to do fixing some mistakes and small technical stuff but overall happy with the as where things are headed. After I return to Canada we are home for a few weeks to race at Nakiska and then we head off to Ontario to begin our eastern NOR-AM tour.
Prior to heading overseas we started out post-Christmas block out east at Burke mountain with some norams there. I had a top 20 slalom result and some solid Super G skiing. The boys and I enjoyed ourselves by cooking our meals outside for a night which was a nice way to finish off the trip.
So far this season has been awesome and I am really enjoying skiing with the boys and working hard to improve. Thanks again to all of you reading and to all of our coaches, sponsors and parents. Thank you to the AST Sponsors: Karbon, GMC Dealers of Alberta, Sporting Life, and Mission Wealth Advisors. Have a great day and see you next time.
AST Athlete Journal: Makenna Lebsack
Welcome to my second athlete journal this ski season. My name is Makenna Lebsack and for those of you who are new, this is my second year on the Alberta Ski Team. I am currently writing to you from the Canada-USA border as Coach Sean, Polly and I embark on our 8-hour road trip from Kimberly to Bozeman, Montana for some NCAA GS races.
Going back a few weeks, I wanted to recap the last couple of races the Alberta Team has been to. After a well-needed Christmas break filled with a lot of turkey dinners and family time, the team flew out to Jamaica for some NorAms and FIS races. I know some of you must be confused and/or jealous when you read Jamaica, but what I should mention is I am talking about Jamaica, Vermont, which is a small town with not even a grocery store let alone sandy beaches…Our first day of training at the ski hill Okemo was definitely an experience, we trained the bumpiest course I have ever skied. The weather was also so warm that even a bear came out of hibernation and decided to wander onto our ski run. After some challenging but beneficial training, we headed to Stratton for two SL and two GS NorAms. With all the rain and warm weather, the conditions were very tough so starting 49th in the SL was a fight to finish. I managed to get into the top 30 and had a much better course for the second run. I moved from 49th to 19th place (coming 15th in the second run) earning my first-ever SL NorAm points. In all of my 14 years of ski racing, I have never seen such a lack of snow on a hill ski in January, and unfortunately, both of the GS races were canceled. We had to end our trip early as the rest of the FIS races we had planned were also canceled to preserve the snowpack. We were very disappointed but at least we got to stop at Target on the way to the airport with so much extra time on our hands!
Upon getting home we had a couple of training days to prepare for the GMC Cup at Mount Norquay. It felt so good to get back onto Alberta snow and out of the rain. Over four days of racing, our women’s team walked away with eight overall medals and nine U19 medals. As some people in the ski community know, I have been rehabbing a fracture in my spine since July and missed the first Norquay race as I was not allowed to train gates yet. I was very happy to be able to get into the start gate this time and finish with two victories and one silver medal.
Following all that racing, it was awesome to be able to spend a few days at home and have a short training block at Nakiska and COP. It was a great chance to slow down and just work on technique. After our last training day at Nakiska last Thursday, Polly and I drove up to Kimberly to meet the rest of the speed crew for the night SL. This was my first ever night race! This race has been canceled for the last three years due to either weather or COVID. There was a lot of unexpected snow but all the organizers, volunteers and coaches worked hard shoveling the track to make sure the race was a go. I ended up coming down in second place and then got to watch all the boys shred their second run. Now it’s time to put away the SL skis and get ready for some GS!
I wanted to graciously thank my parents, all the volunteers, coaches, and sponsors: Sporting life, Karbon, GMC Dealers of Alberta, and Mission Wealth Advisors for making this race year possible. I would also like to thank my personal sponsors Dynastar/Lange, and Shred for the sick set-up this year!
Thank you for reading and I hope to see you on the hills!
AST Athlete Journal: Gered Thompson
My name is Gered Thompson. I am 18 years old and this is my first year on the Alberta Ski Team. I have grown up skiing with Nakiska Alpine Ski Association where I was lucky enough to make lifelong friends. Growing up with this club has made me learn the importance of having fun and working hard at the same time and I believe that this combination can lead to great results!
I just finished racing the Norquay series. The team had some good runs and good learning experience. I was able to win my first race if the season! I’m now moving in to a week of training before heading to Kimberly to do some speed series and a night slalom.
I am so thankful to have the support of my parents. My dad is at every race and is my biggest advocate and my mom has shown me the importance of hard work. I am so appreciatative for my sponsors. GMC dealers of Alberta, Karbon, Sporting Life and Raymond James Mission Wealth Advisors. A big shout out to Fischer Skis and to all of my bottle drive donors that have supported me over the years.