By Steve Hubrecht

A mogul-mashing, cowboy Columbia Valley teen turned a hat trick of medals recently at the Canada Winter Games.

‘Cowboy’ Cole Carey has been competing on the NorAm circuit with the B.C. provincial freestyle team this year, and had the opportunity of his athletic lifetime this winter when he earned a spot on B.C.’s team at the Canada Winter Games, held in February and March in Prince Edward Island and at Crabbe Mountain, New Brunswick. The 18-year old Carey, who grew up at Panorama Mountain Resort and graduated from David Thompson Secondary School (DTSS) last June, made good on the once-in-a-lifetime chance, earning a gold, silver and bronze medal in the three events he participated in.

The gold came in the team moguls event, the silver in the dual moguls, and the bronze in the single moguls. 

Those old enough to remember Canadian Jean-Luc Brassard’s neon-yellow-kneed run to Olympic glory  in Lillehammer know exactly what a mogul competition entails. But to explain for those younger than middle age: the event involves skiers doing a timed run down a mogul-filled slope (i.e. one dotted with large, thigh-high bumps), linking turns through the bumps and troughs, while twice launching themselves off steep jumps, performing tricks as they do.

In the single moguls event, skiers take to the course solo, one after the other. In the dual event, skiers compete on parallel courses side-by-side. Each round of the dual event involves two skiers going head-to-head, with the winner of the two progressing, knockout style, to the next round. The team event involves two teammates, one male and one female each competing in a dual race (against another male-female team). The team with the better combined score advances, knockout style, to the next round.

The Canada Winter Games are for athletes 20 years old or younger, and are held once every four years, meaning most athletes usually only get one chance to participate.

“I was so stoked. I couldn’t believe it. It was tough competition. My goal was just to put down a run or two I could be happy with, and so then when I ended up with a trio of medals, I was amazed. It couldn’t have gone any better,” Cole told the Pioneer.

Cole’s parents were at the Canada Winter Games, to cheer their son on and told the Pioneer that the experience was one to remember for the whole family.

“It really is like a mini-Olympics. There’s a torch run beforehand, an opening ceremony, and there’s even an athlete’s village…The Maritime hospitality was wonderful. Everybody was so excited for these young athletes to have the spotlight,” said Cole’s mom, Julie. 

She was delighted for Cole just to be able to attend the Games, and even more so that he did so well.

“He was on point, he was on fire,” Julie told the Pioneer. “He’s over the moon, and so are we.”

‘Cowboy’ Cole has caught attention on the NorAm circuit for more than just his performances. He steadfastly wears a cowboy hat, cowboy boots, jeans, and button-down shirt everywhere he goes. Asked why, he replies that’s just who he is.

“I grew up in a genuinely Western family. My dad has been volunteering at the Calgary Stampeded for decades and now I do too. I’m actually the first fourth-generation volunteer the Stampede has ever had. I love it,” said Cole. 

His cowboy persona certainly came to the fore earlier this winter when he was part of an equestrian skijoring event in Banff. To the extent that people are familiar with skijoring at all, they are familiar with it featuring a dog (or a team of dogs) pulling a human on skies behind, but technically any animal (or even motor vehicles) can be used, and the horse skijoring in Banff created some buzz on social media. 

“It was awesome, a pretty unique event….I love horses. I love skiing and this was the best of both worlds,” said Cole.

As winter winds down, Cole still has several moguls events before the season is over. When the Pioneer caught up with Cole, he was preparing for a NorAm moguls event in Val Saint-Come, Quebec and was next headed to another NorAm race in Vermont.