AST Athlete Journal: Aidan Kometz

Hello everybody again! If you didn’t see my first Athlete Journal my name is Aidan Kometz and this is my first year on the Alberta Ski Team. The season is past half way and a lot has happened. 2024 started off quite challenging for me at the NORAM’s in the east. I struggled with finishing my races and not getting second runs. Fortunately, we came back home and got some much needed rest, recovery, and training which set me up for my next series at Kimberley. While Caleb and I continued training in Alberta, our teammate Gered was racing across Europe in anticipation for the World Junior Championship. It was so impressive to see Gered compete amongst the best junior athletes in the world. What I loved most was the livestreaming which displayed his full run complete with intervals and active speeds. However, this meant I was the only AST male competing in the Kimberley speed series. Luckily I got to stay with NASA, my previous team. I loved catching up and racing with my old teammates and coaches.

I also loved Kimberley because the main disciplines are downhill and super-g which are my favourite, but it also has a night slalom which is an amazing experience. The first two training days went great! I got a feel for the track, learning where I could push it and what line was the fastest. When it came to the first race day everything fell into place. It felt just like that good downhill run I had at Copper earlier in the season. I made the right moves, tucked as much as I could, and felt confident the whole way down. This was a great success for me not only for the skiing, but also because it was my first ever FIS win and podium. I was overjoyed with this result, yet the next day was the exact opposite. It was warming up and began to lightly rain before I went. I struggled with the surface and didn’t change my approach accordingly. I remember one specific turn where I got caught outside the line in the wet sticky snow and lost my speed. These two days demonstrated to me that skiing is a sport of constant flux and change. Ups and downs, highs and lows. I had an amazing day one day and a below optimal one the next. This lesson was shoved even more in my face when (on the same day as the bad downhill run) I podiumed in U19 for the night slalom, a discipline I normally struggle with. I am still trying to figure out the mental side of racing. I know I have the physical capabilities but I lack the confidence or ability to execute when necessary. As my previous coach used to say “You have to rise to the occasion” which, frankly, I have not been doing recently. However, I’m learning. I’m trying my best to figure out what works for me and I know that some things come with experience and time and not just ability.

We are now out east skiing some NORAMs and other races. This has become one of my favourite trips because of the memories/activities I am getting. One house we got to stay at had a pool, foosball, ping pong, and air hockey table. After a mentally hard day of racing it was necessary to come back and be distracted or cheer yourself up. I am really excited for these upcoming races, especially the Super-G NORAM as I really love speed. These trips away have also taught me a lot. I have learned how to accurately shop for yourself (which is a hard thing to do with how tempting everything is), how to cook new and different meals, and has taught me to have better time management. I have struggled a lot with handing in these journals on time, but I just get so caught up in the racing world I forget about them. I do really appreciate and value these trips and my life ski racing. I am grateful for everything that has come my way. I appreciate my family, teachers, coaches, and friends for any and all support. I also appreciate and want to thank our sponsors for supporting us, Karbon, GMC Dealers of Alberta, Genstar, and Sporting Life. We can only pursue these ambitions with your help.

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AST Athlete Journal: Polly Lang

Hello Everyone!!

It feels like it’s been forever since I last checked in with everyone and a lot has gone down. The team has been performing excellently across North America this season. Success in the ski world really does take a village and we have had so much support this year so I’d like to start my athlete journal by recognizing these people and organizations. The team sponsors; GMC Dealers of Alberta, Karbon Sports, Sporting Life and Genstar, My parents, coaches and teammates have all helped my season run as smoothly as possible and have provided a solid support system, which is super important in this sport. A huge thank you is due to all the volunteers and parents who show up in less-than-ideal conditions and work tirelessly to make sure the races run as planned. Although your efforts can be overshadowed by the main race my team and I are appreciative of all the hard work.

Although east skiing gets a lot of slack it has to be said I always enjoy my trips to eastern Canada. They put on some great races on super fun hills with some great snow (well maybe only great in the eyes of racers). After a somewhat rough series in Pano, I was a little nervous about heading into a field with lots of depth and lacked confidence. However in training before the races I was able to build confidence and remember that I am capable of being competitive. I had a really solid series in Bromont and Owls head, the first day of GS I was somewhat disappointed in my skiing but I managed to turn it around for the second. I felt like I finally saw some good GS racing that replicates my training. The slalom also went well for me, I found my way onto the podium on both days as well as new personal best FIS scores. Equally as thrilling the race was all wrapped up by 1:00 so we had lots of time to make dinner, tune and lay in bed for a little longer than we should. I have taken up the hobby of painting, I travel with a set of watercolour paints. Although I don’t consider myself to be very talented at art I am finding it a nice distraction from racing and to let myself relax a little in the evening.

We are currently in the mountainous Collingwood. Collingwood is always a cool place to be as there is a very different ski culture than out west. A big shoutout to the Vogel family for hosting me at their house for this block. Eva and I started our Ontario block with a single GS race at the Georgian Peaks, I unfortunately did not finish but it was a beautiful day and was nice to watch some GS racing on Noram hill. Zoe and Mik joined us for an off-day where we painted pottery. This was a fun activity as a team however what was meant to be a relaxing activity turned somewhat stressful as our perfectionist sides took over.

After a rest day, we headed to Devils Glen Country Club to start our Noram Series. Devils Glen is a great place to have a Noram. The race run is very steep and the surface was phenomenal. There was a lot of hospitality and spectators, Devils Glen showed a lot of support for the women’s noram circuit. I had some solid turns, scored noram points on both days and got my first Noram top 20. I am looking forward to going back to the peaks and seeing what I can do in the GS. After the GS we are headed back west for the rest of the season.

Thanks everyone for reading and I hope everyone is enjoying their season so far!

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AST Athlete Journal: Mikayla Wunsch

Hey everybody! My name is Mikayla and this is my second athlete journal.

After a successful Kimberley and Panorama race series, our team headed home for some much needed rest and recovery. Although I had tons of fun in B.C, preparing my mind to race for these two weeks was one of the toughest things I’ve done all season. Rest is super important to maintain a happy and healthy mindset throughout these long, action packed months. I was really glad to spend the days off with my family. Later in the week, we joined the Banff Alpine Racers for some training on Silver Legacy, at Norquay. Silver Legacy is personally one of my favourite runs to train on because of the super long pitch. Hopefully our time spent there pays off during the Norquay Series in March.

During our Pano/Kimberley block, we didn’t have much time to hit the gym, so our first sessions back were tough. Our trainer Nate makes sure we have the right amount of work in our program to get us back on track. Maintaining physical fitness during the season is crucial for injury prevention, and long term development. With another few days off, I went for a free ski day at Sunshine Village. A relaxed day on the hill is just what I needed to remind myself how much I love skiing!

I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day, with whoever makes you feel special! We had an awesome day….. Sitting in the airport……. Then the plane……. Then in a car for a couple hours. Despite the travelling, we made the time to have a little celebration of our own. Shortly after landing, we headed off to the grocery store and bought a strawberry cake, and lots of gummy worms to go with it. GALentine’s Day was a great way to kick off another eastern block.

Our first leg of the trip is a Super Séries in Québec, taking place at Bromont and Owl’s Head. Here the boys and the girls race at two different hills, and then switch halfway through. Prior to this series, we had some training time on the actual race runs. At Bromont the slope is injected so our time on the ice in both Hintertux and Belgium paid off. We started with GS at Bromont, while the boys raced Slalom at Owls Head. Our team had a few good results in the GS. Polly was able to score and achieved 4th place. Personally, I felt more connected to the GS rhythm than I have in a long time, and was able to match my points…… down to the hundredth! Owl’s head has brought some huge successes for our team, with Polly, Eva, Zoe and Katie all scoring well below what they currently have. Polly also ended up with third and second place medals! Our boys had some success, with Caleb getting a 3rd place in the slalom, and Gered scoring in both Tech events.

One of the many things that makes me look forward to our travels is our extravagant dinners. I’m super happy to be with a group of girls that agree nutrition is a high priority. We started off with a team dinner featuring polly’s spaghetti bolognese. Between the delicious food, and the pool table, it was a really fun night. The next evening we ate stuffed yam potatoes, which have Mexican style flavouring. I will certainly be asking Eva for her recipe. After the potatoes we had Zoe’s peanut noodle stir fry, Kyleigh’s Korean beef, Katie’s peanut butter chicken, and a pesto gnocchi made by me. Even if our skiing isn’t always great, we always look forward to our culinary adventures!

After a cold and snowy series in Québec, Zoe and I are headed off to New York state for the Whiteface NOR-AM Super-G’s. Polly, Eva Katie and Kyleigh are going to Collingwood for the Georgian Peaks FIS GS. A few days after these series, we will all meet up again for the Collingwood NOR-AMs. Our boys will be going to race the Whiteface Super-G’s and then travelling to Mont Saint-Marie for their Tech NOR-AMS.

Finally, I’d like to take the chance to thank our awesome sponsors GMC Canada, Karbon Sports, Sporting Life and Genstar for supporting all of our journeys. You guys are crucial to making our dreams a reality. Stay tuned for more adventures to come!

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AST Athlete Journal: Caleb Brooks

Hello everybody! My name is Caleb Brooks, and this is my second athlete journal of the season. So far this year, the biggest challenges have been NorAms and handing in the athlete journals on time.This new year has been amazing, starting off with some NorAms down in Vermont. This year’s NorAm circuit has been very challenging, with multiple university racers participating. There were 15+ guys within 10 points. It was crazy! The snow conditions were very good for the top guys, but once you reached bib 107, the conditions were really bumpy. My goggles were almost vibrating off my face while skiing down. Once the Burke races were done, we headed to Whiteface, New York. On our way there, we didn’t know about the ferry, and we showed up minutes before the last ferry of the day. It was a relief that we didn’t have to take the long way around the lake. Our time in Lake Placid was short but enjoyable, with bunk beds in the room all the boys were cozied up. After these race series, Aidan and I flew home for a bit of rest and training. Gered headed out to Europe to represent Canada at the 2024 World Juniors held in France.

When we came home, we were welcomed by freezing temperatures. It was a very drastic change.  At the end of the day, I will always prefer the -40 over the +3 and rain anytime. After a couple days off, it was time to train again. The team headed out to Pano to train for a week. We were blessed with bluebird days and perfect snow conditions. During our time in Pano, we went skating on the lake and hung out as a crew.

After that, the team had a very successful couple weeks of racing In Kimberly and Pano. Here’s some of the highlights! Polly took the W in the night SL,  Zoe came in second. I got silver in the night SL.  Aiden won the DH. Zoe and I shared the W on one of the GS days. We also had Eva and Mikayla show off their speed. Mikayla coming in 2nd in the SG and Eva winning the first run of the GS. It’s been a good few weeks for the team. We are now resting before we head out East for some more NorAms.

This year has been very enjoyable; the PSO teams are close, and we are all getting along. The team has a good vibe and always has fun whenever we are together. I’d like to thank our sponsors. Without you guys, none of this would be possible. You guys are awesome. So thank you to Sporting Life, Karbon, GMC Dealers of Alberta, and Genstar.

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AST Athlete Journal: Eva Vogel

Hello Friends! I hope that you have all been staying warm on the slopes during this past week! WOW it has been cold!

While the hills were closed for training, the AST kept warm by hitting the gym and focusing on maintaining our fitness levels. Following a long block of travel and racing in the USA, we have all enjoyed returning home and getting back into the gym at CSI as keeping fit is crucial to performing our best!!

Personally, the start of the season has been a bit of a challenge for me. I have been struggling to perform at my best on race day. As I’m sure many of you know, it’s mostly a mental game on race day. Everyone has trained, everyone is strong, and everyone is fast. So what sets the top athletes apart from the rest? Mental training and confidence in their abilities!

I feel that it is important to acknowledge and talk about the struggles that athletes face because throughout our journey we will often encounter more challenges then successes and that is ok! It is part of our journey!

As I try to reflect on working through this mental block of race day performance, it has been crucial for me to look inwards in order to understand where the self doubts and performance anxiety is coming from. Through working with a sports psychologist and mental performance coach, I have learned that often your mind will try to tell you things that are not true when your body is in a high stress state. This comes from our “fight or flight” response. In order to combat these negative and false thoughts, I am working on recalling specific proof of my successes. For example, if I am feeling nervous about racing a challenging hill, I will focus my thoughts on reminding myself that on a steep icy pitch, I ski my best when I focus on initiating my turn much above the gate and being aggressive.

When I am experiencing challenging times, whether it be on race day or even in training, it is important to remind myself that focusing on only the results will actually hold me back! When we focus too much about our results, it adds unnecessary pressure and blocks our mind from the things we need to focus on to achieve the results we desire. Instead, I am trying to focus on one or two technical aspects that I know will produce my best skiing. Focusing on what I can control in my own skiing allows me to feel relaxed and more confident in my race plan. It is proven that the results come when you are focused, relaxed and confident!

While everyone wants to perform at their peak, at every race, it is important to remind ourselves that this is not always going to be the case! In fact, I have grown and learned the most during my most challenging times not only in my ski career but also in life! If any athlete out there who is presently stuck in a bit of a rut and reading this, I hope that you learn that you are not alone and that your feelings are totally normal! Always remember that if you love a sport … it is a journey … that should be a fun ride! We all go through struggles to get to where we want to be! And If you want to achieve your goals, you will keep pushing, believe and not give up on yourself!

Well the team is now off to Panorama and Kimberley for another block of racing and I am really looking forward to this opportunity to continue improving my mental game! Onwards and upwards for the rest of the season! Also a HUGE shoutout to Gered who is representing Canada at World Juniors in France! We are cheering you on!!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my coaches, teammates and Alberta Alpine for providing such a supportive environment. While going through this rough patch it has been so important for me to know that I have the support of my teammates, coaches and family all cheer me on!! Thanks guys you rock
I also want to thank our sponsors GMC Canada, Karbon Sports and Sporting Life who make it possible for us to continue doing the sport we love no matter what! And a big shout out to our newest sponsor GenStar! So excited to have you guys on board! Let’s go Team Alberta!!

Finally if this Athlete Journal resonates with you please DM me on instagram! I would love to chat! @evavogell

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AST Athlete Journal: Gered Thompson

Hello everybody! My name is Gered Thompson, and this is my second year on the Alberta Ski Team. My home club is Nakiska Alpine Ski association. I’d like to thank them for the continual support in my ski racing career and their contributions to my athletic development over the years. I went through their program, up until second year-FIS when I was named to the Alberta Ski Team. We have a great team dynamic this year, it being Caleb Brooks, Aidan Kometz, myself, with a wicked development team in place. The Alberta team had huge amounts of successes and challenging experiences as we finished off our racing in 2023. Caleb has represented Alberta on the podium several times while Aidan has stepped up to the NORAM circuit for his first time. I am currently on my way to Italy to train and race my first Europacup. Excitedly, I have recently been announced to the 2024 Canadian World Juniors team where we will be representing Canada at Portes du Soleil, in France. This will be my first time skiing in France, and I’m super excited for this new experience. From Italy, the team will continue on to represent Canada on a world platform. I will be competing in the speed events; super G and downhill.

Qualifying for World Juniors came with challenges. Alpine Canada took our results from races in Copper Mountain, Beaver Creek, and the Burke Norams to solidify the team. During the training three days prior to the races in Copper, I had a crash that led to a fracture in my thumb. This injury was a big test to my mental toughness and required determination to overcome. It made pushing out of the start difficult and very uncomfortable. I tried my best to hold my focus to keep a grasp on my pole for the minute thirty downhill. In the end, Alpine Canada has put together a strong and well-rounded team. I’m super excited for what these next few weeks have in store for me.

This race season wouldn’t be possible without the constant support from my sponsors, Sporting Life, Karbon, GMC Dealers of Alberta, and Genstar Development Company. I’d also like to thank Mitch from Fischer and my supports from my bottle drives.

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AST Coach Journal: Amanda Smith

Happy New Year to All!

The AST women’s crew is currently here in New York State finishing up our trip with some GS races over at Gore Mountain. Before we dive into the details of our current travels, let’s recap a few things from December and the end of 2023. Where did we leave off? The women’s team travelled back from Tremblant NorAMs while the men’s team travelled from Beaver Creek NorAms and we all met up in Panorama, for the Maclachlan winter race series. It was good to have the crew back together again in one place.

Luckily, this season a holiday miracle was granted to us and the weather conditions were much kinder than the previous season. We did not have to brave the frigid cold temps like the year before which helped make for a great race series. The first two days we had some GS racing and results wise the crew walked away with some hardware,  Zoe(overall 2nd, 2nd), and Caleb(overall 3rd). There were a few top 10 finishes from others in there as well. The last two days of the series was slalom where once again some hardware was brought home by Polly(overall 2nd & 3rd), Eva(U19 3rd) and Caleb(overall 3rd & 2nd). As well as some top 10 finishes. I feel overall the athletes were stoked to be back somewhere as familiar as Panorama and to come together as the full team for this race series before the holidays. Speaking of holidays, we did partake in a team secret santa exchange. Thoughtfulness was seen within the gifts given to each other and one might say the men’s team showed some creative gift wrapping too. Everyone headed home after this series for a well deserved holiday break and family time.

We all met at the Calgary airport on Dec 29th to catch our flight for the next race series. As the plane touched down the pilot came on the overhead speaker welcoming us to our new destination. “It’s currently 2 degrees celsius and pouring rain, welcome to Quebec ” The Team split again, both driving down into the states. The men off to Burke and the women off to Stratton. After a late night rainy drive we arrived in Stratton. You could say that the weather and conditions dampened our optimism for the upcoming NorAm races as snow conditions were not ideal. It was the start of January yet it felt like October. One of the things about this sport is there are so many variables that can be out of one’s control, therefore you shift your focus to what you can control and make the most of it. Find the silver linings and do what you can from what you have. Thankfully these conditions only lasted the first three days and finally we got some cold temps which allowed for snow making.

During the three days we made the most of on snow training, and spent time in the gym. We had a post training visit to the waffle cabin with the BC women’s team where bold statements such as “This is the best waffle I have ever tasted” were made, and yes I would agree that those waffles were delightful. That evening we came together with the Ontario and BC women’s teams for a new year’s bonfire bbq. It can be common for us provincial crews to work together on snow within certain race series, but it was gratifying to see the athletes bond off snow as well. I feel supporting each other is important and creating bonds and relationships between the provinces to do so helps everyone as a collective. Overall it was a lovely evening and a great way to ring in the new year all together.

It’s now 2024, a new year, a new race. I can say the surface on our tech free ski day before the races kicked off pleasantly surprised us. The Stratton Noram kicked off with two GS days to start followed by two Slalom days. This is a NorAm and if you know ski racing it is a stepping stone up into the next level. We teamed up with the BC women’s team and it was great to work together again. Qualifying for second runs the crew battled their way and Polly came out with some slalom NorAm points. After Stratton it was planned to be back on the speed program with some NorAm Super-G races out at Whiteface Mountain but due to the conditions they have been postponed to later in the season. We left Stratton and drove our way up to Lake Placid with a minor added detour. There was a pitstop at some of the greatest things America has to offer, Trader Joes and Target. With tasty snacks in hand, we continued our journey to our destination.

The Super-G race days that had been postponed due to lack of snow, became training days for us. Irony hit, as our first training session was then cancelled due to a sudden winter storm and now too much snow. Off to the gym the team went for that day and we were reacquainted with the AST men’s crew. This brings us to now, at Gore Mountain resort. Today with a GS training session with softer conditions in preparation for the race series. The men will be racing at Whiteface Mountain while the ladies will be at Gore Mountain. We are all optimistic and ready to race these final series before we travel back home for a training block.

I hope all of you had a wonderful time over the holiday break. I would like to say thank you to our sponsors, SportingLife, Karbon, and GMC Dealers of Alberta, for all of their support as it means a great deal to this team. Thank you to all the other supporters of this team, parents, athletes, and staff. I am stoked to be here coaching and working with this amazing crew. The rest of this season along with the future is something I look forward to! Happy New Year and until next time!!

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AST Athlete Journal: Mikayla Wunsch

Hello Everybody!!

My Name is Mikayla Wunsch and this is my first year with the Alberta Ski Team. For my previous three seasons of FIS, I skied with the Nakiska Alpine ski association.

I can honestly say the craziness of the race season has officially started for the team! At the start of December, Polly Eva and Caleb were at Norquay for some slalom racing. Their hard work throughout the summer and Pre-season certainly paid off with some great runs and results! While the tech crew was racing, our speed team flew out to Denver for the Nor-Am speed series at Copper Mountain. Our super wonderful coaches, Amanda and Peter drove 17 hours with our equipment to meet us for the final leg of the journey up to Silverthorne. I was particularly excited for this series because I really love Downhill and Super-G!

Before our race series, the team was fortunate enough to get a slalom day at Loveland Basin. Although the snow was very soft, everyone was grateful to keep the legs moving.

If I could describe the next couple days in 1 word, it would be SNOW!! For two days, we woke up, put on our gear, and were quickly disappointed when Amanda walked out of her room with news of canceled training. Instead of our first downhill training day, we had a GS powder day at Copper Mountain.

After a day of no new snow, and a tremendous effort from the volunteers and coaches, the track was finally ready for a productive downhill training day! It was my first time skiing the run and let me tell you, I certainly needed the time to learn how to effectively ski the terrain, and find the right line. One thing I love about speed is how closely we work with the other provincial team coaches and athletes. It is super awesome to learn from and make friends with people from all across Canada.

Now onto the racing!
Zoe had 2 exceptional downhill runs, resulting in career best 6th places! Aidan on his second Nor-Am race ever, scored cup points with a 24th place finish. Also, Gered, despite skiing with a fractured thumb scored Nor-Am points in both of his downhills. I scored my first downhill Nor-Am points, placing 17th and 13th respectively. Even though I found it challenging to find my race intensity, getting two decent finishes is a huge step forward for me after a double DNF at Whistler last year.

I think both Zoe and I can agree that our Super-G’s didn’t quite go as planned. However, at the end of the day, even if it’s not your best day, there is always something to be learnt and someone else to celebrate! In this case, we were all super happy for Anne-Catherine Theberge from the Quebec team, who ended up on the overall podium!

With a long week of racing behind us, we had a team dinner to celebrate Caleb’s 19th birthday, where he did a fantastic job barbecuing ribs! After an awesome dinner and some birthday cake, it was time for us girls to go pack.

After a long travel day, Zoe and I reunited with Polly, Eva and Kyle for the tech Nor-Ams at Mont Tremblant. Amanda got to drive back home and have some well deserved days off in Edmonton. Our boys stayed behind in Silverthorne to race their tech Nor-Ams at Beaver Creek.

So far Tremblant has been a real learning experience. We got to ski the track from the previous week’s world cup, which was super cool, but presented many challenges. The ice brought back memories of the conditions in Hintertux; our skis needed to be SHARP! The rolls and bumps across the flat were built to test your legs. Also, this race was certainly the most competitive one I’ve been to, with some of the world cup girls staying to race the hill for a second time. It’s inspiring to see how focused they are and how hard they are able to push on the skis. Although I skied well in the GS, I was still a ways out from the top racers. Truely, it’s been humbling to see how different tech Nor-Ams are from the speed ones.

The highlight of this series has been our raclette night with the BC girls. After a long race day we got our steak, potatoes, peppers, broccoli, carrots, pickles, onions, mushrooms, bread and asparagus chopped and boiled. All the burners were on high as we set the table for our feast. The night was an absolute blast! We all had lots to talk and laugh about. If you guys weren’t jealous already, we had chocolate covered strawberries, bananas and waffles for dessert! After all of the eating was done, we had so many leftovers that we had to eat raclette again the next day (absolutely no complaints about that!)

Finally, I’d like to thank our sponsors, Sporting Life, Karbon and GMC Dealers of Alberta, who make our hectic racing schedules possible!

I hope you are all having a wonderful holiday and stay tuned to hear more about our season!

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AST Athlete Journal: Aidan Kometz

Hey Everyone!

If you don’t know me, my name is Aidan Kometz and this is my first year on the Alberta Ski Team. I am entering my third year racing FIS, the first two I spent with NATC. I have grown up my whole life racing at/for Nakiska, starting when I was just 4 years old. I have so many amazing memories from my time at NASA; my first real races in U12 and U14, the freeski days with all my friends, and seeing all my friends compete and succeed. I gained a love for racing at Nakiska which makes it so cool we had some of our home preseason training there. It makes me really excited that I am on the Alberta Team with some of my prior teammates, and that so many are on the road to joining us too.

So far this year we have been very busy. We already had two challenging preseason camps in Europe that gave us a variety of training. I enjoyed our first camp in Saas-Fee because we got volume training in the mornings, had delicious meals, and got to do all sorts of activities like soccer, volleyball, mini golf, and spikeball. Saas Fee was also the first real-time we got to be a team, getting closer with the development team athletes as well. It is so great to have Gered and Caleb as veterans on the team because they can always help me out whenever I need it. After Saas Fee, we had a couple of weeks off of snow for dryland and preparation for our second camp in Hintertux/Belgium. This glacier presented much harder conditions with very bumpy ice, blizzards, snow, and exposed rocks.

However, this training was made much easier with our coaches helping by cycling our skis, slipping, and encouraging us. This type of training is also beneficial for us because it gives us experience with harder, more serious conditions. For example, the World Cup at Tremblant this weekend had very low visibility and warmer weather which is similar to conditions we trained in Hintertux or Saas. I also got the chance to train with some of the Canadian team men and other World Cup athletes which was motivating and an amazing comparison. After two weeks at Hintertux, we headed to Belgium to ski indoors (what?!?!) which is something I didn’t think I would ever get to do. I was also excited because I had never been to Belgium before. The indoor skiing was a whole new experience with extremely slick ice which forced my skiing to change for the better. I loved getting two sessions separated by a break for lunch and tuning because we got to review videos of us skiing so we could make changes quickly. This is where my slalom really started to get better. The only annoying part would be the bruises from the slalom gates ricocheting off the ice, but they healed fast.

We came back home and after a short resting period began our home preseason training at Nakiska and Panorama. All our new awesome Karbon jackets, pants, and suits had just come in so we got to train in warmth and style. GMC’s trucks also made it easy for our daily trips out to the hill with all our equipment. My favourite part of our home snow training was the days we trained Super G and Downhill, getting top speeds of 130 km/hr. We also spent a week at Panorama training with the other provincial teams which was intimidating at first. I made lots of progress with my speed and GS skiing there.

We have now officially moved into the racing season! Caleb took on the Slalom race at Norquay, doing well and demonstrating his skiing has already improved so much compared to last year. Gered and I are at Copper Mountain, Colorado preparing for the first NORAM Downhill and Super G of the year. I can’t wait to see what this season holds!

UPDATE: My first NORAM went great! I loved stepping into this new level of competition with elite and national team athletes. Our team did awesome, especially Zoe showing all of us she can lay down some downhill runs. I had a personal best myself moving from bib 55 to 24, evening getting to score my first NORAM points!

I would like to thank our sponsors Sporting Life, GMC, and Karbon for helping us chase our ambition.

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AST Athlete Journal: Zoe Gray

Hi everyone!!!

Thanks for joining us for another athlete journal 🙂

My name is Zoe Gray, and this is my second year on the Alberta Ski Team. As my teammates mentioned, our season started off with lots of volume, and since being back on home snow the hard work put into our early season camps is now paying off. We had a couple weeks at Nakiska before making our way to Panorama. In Panorama we did lots preparation for our up coming NorAm race block. We were able to have organized Super G put together by Alpine Canada, which allowed us to train with other Provincial teams and create a really good dynamic for future NorAms.

Everyone had the Panorama glow, happy mornings with the sunrise shining on Mount Nelson, and many productive training laps on Mile One. Our girls were skiing very well, Polly had amazing GS and Slalom training, keeping it quality over quantity to avoid flaring her current back injury. Eva was able to find her flow in her GS, as well as take on the SG old-timer, and Mikayla did lots of fine tuning with her speed events so she can approach these speed races with confidence. I was stuck in a funk with my skiing prior to Pano, but I was able to regain some confidence with a little help from my home hill.

On the last night in Pano, we had a big team dinner with all the athletes and coaches. We did the famous boursin feta pasta that was a staple meal for us while being on the road last year, big thanks to Julia, and of course had a delicious dessert. CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRIES!!! The girls came over early to help cook, as I can’t handle cutting onions as well as Polly, and our boys took over when it came to dishes. Our boys also got to challenge my younger brother at a chess game, which is very much a ritual for whoever comes over. Fortunately, the Men’s Alberta Ski Team can ski a whole lot better then they can play chess. Our girls on the other hand knew better then to start a chess game, and chose to accompany my dogs on the floor for some cuddles. You would have thought Polly was a paparazzi with the amount of photos she took of Bubba and Mowgli. We did the official drawing of names for our team Secret Santa, so stay tuned for the athlete journal covering our Secret Santa presents!

Once everyone had names, we called it a night and all left with full stomachs, and in Gray fashion LOTS of leftovers!

The following week our speed team was able to join in Downhill training at Nakiska with the Austrian Europe Cup Team, they sure gave our boys some speeds to chase. Nakiska showed off a little for us with many blue bird mornings, and great snow conditions. Although we were on the very flat Map Maker the speeds still got decently fast, I believe Caleb clocked in at 130km/h! After our morning speed session we would go into CSI to see our favourite strength trainer Nate, and of course lift a few things:)

It is safe to say our team is well prepared for next weeks races. We have Eva, Polly, and Caleb racing this weekend at Norquay, and the rest of the team traveling to Copper Colorado to spend a few days learning the downhill track before we race it! We are all so excited to be kicking out of the start gate!

I wanted to thank everyone who has donated, and all our sponsors for making this season possible. As well as my personal sponsors who are helping me reach my goals!

See you on the slopes,

Zoe Gray 🙂

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AST Athlete Journal: Caleb Brooks

Hello everybody!

My name is Caleb Brooks and I am returning for my second year on the Alberta Ski Team. The team has been settling into preseason in Canada. Not too long ago we arrived back from a very successful camp in Austria and Belgium, where we skied in very versatile conditions. In Austria, we had the chance to train GS with the Canadian National men’s and women’s teams. It was awesome to compare ourselves to these elite athletes. Once we arrived home there was no time wasted, we were right back on snow at Nakiska. And let me tell you the training was awesome. We were able to train in very good conditions every day. After two weeks at home, the men’s team and women’s team headed out to Pano for a week of training. Pano has been delivering the goods this week. We have been hard at work doing doubles sessions of super g and tech events every day. It has been awesome training in Pano with the other PSO teams, it is always great to collaborate with our fellow provincial teams. It seems in Pano the vibes are always high, everyone is staying super close to each other so we can see each other and do team activities. At the end of one of our training days, we went to Endeavour Fitness down in Invermere for a team workout. It was super fun to hang out with the team and get some gains at the same time. We must go to the gym during the ski season so that we can maintain our summer progress. It’s also nice being so close to home, my mom and dog were able to come and visit me for a day and watch me train, It made my week! To add to the difficulty of double sessions Peter, the men’s coach, decided to set an angled royal flush down the hay fever pitch and anyone who knows how steep hay fever is you can understand how challenging it is. When we weren’t skiing the boys were able to sneak in some Wii badminton, all the boys got into it and it was a good off-hill distraction. After the week of training in Pano, I am feeling super excited to get racing soon.

Unfortunately this year we won’t be skiing with my best friend Nathan Sylvestre. He decided to pursue coaching. He’s currently the U16 assistant coach at Sunshine coaching the next generation of skiers.

I’d also like to thank our sponsors. Without you guys none of this would be possible, you guys are awesome. So thank you to Sporting life, Karbon and GMC Dealers of Alberta.  

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AST Athlete Journal: Eva Vogel

Hello Everybody!!

My name is Eva Vogel and I am a new member to the Alberta Ski Team this year! This year will be my third year racing FIS and I am beyond honoured and excited to represent Alberta on the North American circuit! I completed my first two years of FIS with the Nakiska Alpine Ski Association. It is a well known fact that Nakiska provides an amazing environment for us ski racers to train! With the perfect combination of pitch and terrain I really enjoyed having Nakiska as my home base for the last two years!

After a long summer of working hard in the gym, I was so excited to get back on snow and reunite with the team in europe! The team atmosphere is so amazing and I am very fortunate to be surrounded by a group of hard working, like minded, and inspiring athletes! I was also very appreciative of the hard work and effort put forth by our coaches to optimise our training experience with the challenging conditions on the glaciers! They were always fixing and slipping the course, taking video of our runs, and lapping our skis so they didn’t get damaged. After two glacier camps and indoor training in Belgium, the team is finally back on home snow in Alberta! The conditions at Nakiska this past week did not disappoint! The team has really been able to see the gains that were made while training in the less than optimal conditions in Europe as we return to familiar snow at home!

We have been on an early morning load everyday which provides us with optimal conditions for on hill training and then time for off hill training in the gym! Our athletic trainer, Nate, from CSI has provided us with a maintenance program that we follow while on hill, so that our summer physical fitness gains are maintained throughout the season!

On November 9, 2023, Alberta Alpine hosted the Highest Peak Gala, the major fundraising event for our team. It was a total success and was completely sold out! This year the event was held at the spectacular Fairmont Palliser in Calgary. The evening held many special moments for me including the introduction of the members of our team and fellow teammates on the Development Team. We unveiled our new amazing team uniforms from Karbon and I can assure you that we will be a stand out on the hills this year! We were honoured to witness the newest members be inducted into the Canadian Rockies Ski Racing Hall of Fame including Jim Davis, Dan Gallaugher, Lisa Thomson and Blais O’Brien. As well, the Carry Mullen “Character” awards were presented to 6 athletes who display the qualities of a true champion in their ski racing pursuits: courage, commitment, confidence and camaraderie. Meeting some of these award winners highlighted the significance of my ability to inspire the younger ski generation! However, I too, felt so inspired to be surrounded by others who came together to show their support and love for the sport! These included retired and present national and provincial ski team members, amazing volunteers, and of course the family members who have sacrificed so much for their kids to be ski racers! There were many successful fundraising efforts throughout the night showcasing the generosity of our community. These included the gorgeous diamond ski necklace, 50/50, chocolate and wine raffles, balloon prizes, silent and live auctions. The Highest Peak Gala was an amazing night of celebration, support and community! And isn’t this what sport should be about?! I also wanted to give recognition and appreciation to the volunteers, parents and Alberta Alpine staff for making this event a success. As well, on behalf of Alberta Alpine, my teammates and myself, a sincere thank you to everyone who attended and supported the Highest Peak Gala! We felt the love!

Next weekend the team will head off to Pano for our last big training block in preparation for our first races of the season! And speaking of races, I want to finish off by thanking our team sponsors Sporting Life, Karbon, GMC Dealers of Alberta, who make it possible for us to do what we love!

Go Team Alberta Go! See you on the slopes!
– Eva Vogel

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