A pair of Oak Bay ski families are set to send their preteens off on a grand BC Games downhill adventure.
Brooke Taylor and Luka Djurickovic have a decade or more of ski experience – each.
In the race program as youngsters, they delved into competition in recent years and both scored places on the Zone 6 alpine team for the BC Winter Games in Penticton this month.
Every weekend they head for the slopes of Mount Washintgon, where the ski club celebrates its 35th anniversary this year. They train two or three days a weekend running courses from 9 a.m. to 2:30 each day. “We usually stay on the mountain,” says Taylor. During the BC Games the young athletes are bused up to the Apex Mountain Resort each day.
“All I’ve heard is getting up in the morning is hard because you have to sleep on the floor,” says Djurickovic,
“And get up early,” added Taylor.
Being on the slopes feels natural and so was transition into racing, say the 12-year-olds.
“I did Nancy Green (Ski League) and I always really liked watching people do the courses and thought it would be fun,” says Djurickovic, a Grade 7 student at St. Michaels University School.
Taylor’s parents signed her up.
“I just stuck with it,” she says. “It’s fun going really fast down all the gates.”
Giant slalom is a favourite for both Oak Bay youths, but it requires a certain amount of snow, in short supply the last few years at Mount Washington. Giant slalom involves skiing between gates spaced at a greater distance to each other than in slalom but closer together than Super-G. Up to now the kids’ biggest race was a few weeks ago at Washington.
“I really like going fast and I got a good result,” Djurickovic says.
“That was my first race this year and I actually did pretty well,” agrees Taylor.
The two technical events, slalom and giant slalom during the BC Winter Games mark the first big competition foray for both Oak Bay kids.
Among the youngest of the alpine ski competitors, both have similar modest goals: a top 20 finish in giant slalom, top 30 in slalom and no DNFs (did not finish). They’ve done well in smaller regional races, and learned early to overcome the nerves.
“At first I’m nervous. When I get one run done, I get excited,” Taylor says.
Adrenaline plays a significant role for both doing well and overcoming that small seed of angst. Neither shows a bit of doubt heading toward the Penticton Games Feb. 25 to 28.
Neither holds skiing up as an Olympic dream, both just want to be superb at their sport.
“I really like other sports, like mountain biking. It’s not my dream to be in the Olympics for skiing,” Djurickovic says. “I want to be really good, because it’s super fun.”
Plus they’re adamant proponents of skis above all other downhill ventures.
“Skiing is better than snowboarding,” Djurickovic says, Taylor adding a firm head-nod.
“You can do way more stuff skiing – trick-wise and you can go down steeper stuff.”
Did you know?
• Olympic downhillers reach 130km/h
• Shorter skis are used for slalom courses
• Alpine skiing has been an Olympic sport since 1936 with different disciplines added over the years including Ski Cross at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games
• The Games feature the youngest group of carded racers in the national ski racing system.