ASXT Athlete Journal: Kiersten Vincett

Hello, Alberta Alpine community! My name is Kiersten Vincett, and I am from Galahad, Alberta, in East Central Alberta. I have been in ski racing for 15 years and started racing ski cross in U16. This season is my first year on ASXT. I was previously on ABSX, and my home club is the Valley Ski Club. This year has been very tumultuous and full of surprises. Working around the Covid protocols in the summer proved to be challenging but manageable. I felt like I went into the ski season very strong, and I am thrilled with the training we received from the Canadian Sport Institute. I want to thank our strength and conditioning coaches for all the hard work they do during the summer to do our best on snow.

The biggest challenge of the year came right at the start when in November, I contracted Covid. The team had to quarantine, and it was a difficult time for everyone. We rescheduled our Panorama camp to after our quarantines and had a fantastic couple of weeks in Panorama. With the Canada Snowboard Cross’s help, we built one of the best early-season start sections I have had in my ski cross career. Working with other teams makes it more affordable to the athletes and creates better training environments for multiple sports. It is great to see the programs’ comradery to create training opportunities to propel our careers forward. I appreciate all of the ski hills that are willing to work with us to provide these environments.

The team spent a lot of time in the Crowsnest Pass at Past Powder Keg (PPK) and Castle over the last couple of months. Finding new training venues and exploring new areas is always interesting. On shorter training days, we would explore the town, support local businesses, and see the area’s rich history. After a lot of long hours and hard work, we built a track at PPK; we could get high levels of volume with the short turnaround time of the T-bar. We were able to change up the course a few times to work on new technical and tactical skills. Castle also provided us with great GS opportunities, although we did blow off training (with our coach’s encouragement) to ski the impressive powder Castle had to offer. Freeskiing is an important skill to hone, and it helps with improvisation and terrain management which is critical in ski cross.

I have capitalized on this training year; I have made some significant strides in my skiing that I am excited to bring forward into next season. It feels like this is a never-ending preseason of training. I miss the hustle and bustle of the start area, the adrenaline pumping when the starter calls racers to enter the gate, and the late nights tuning skis for the next day of racing. This excitement keeps many people going; I have been experiencing a bit of training fatigue, as it is hard to know what you are training for. I keep expecting a race to be around the corner, but it has not come and will not come until at least next year. This season was one of my primary goals to compete at World Junior Championships (WJC) in Russia. Unfortunately, Canada was unable to compete, so I cannot capitalize on my last year of eligibility. WJC in Austria was one of my favourite ski cross memories, and I was excited to make more, but Covid had other plans.

This season had been difficult as our jobs depend on a vast support structure of coaches, teammates, volunteers, parents, and race admin. The ski cross community is a very close, tight-knit group, I miss racing, but I also miss seeing all people who work so hard to make it a positive space. Many of the volunteers are like family; they are so excited to see us year after year and welcome us back to their ski areas. I can’t wait to see them all next season. The blessing of Covid is that it makes us take stock of what is truly important. You don’t realize how much you miss your community until it gets taken away.