Avery Gerle, Thomas Burnyeat and Olivia Gibson represented the Panorama Mountain Freeride Club at the Junior Nationals in Quebec from March 6th to 12th. Photo submitted

For the first time in the history of the Panorama Mountain Freeride Club, three young athletes were sent to compete at the Junior Nationals at Le Relais in Lac-Beauport, Quebec. Olivia Gibson, 14, from Calgary; Thomas Burnyeat, 14, also from Calgary; and local Avery Gerle, 17, all competed in the Mogul competition from March 6th to 12th.

They did fairly well; it’s a completely different field for them, so they actually did very well, they put down good clean runs. They don’t have the same degree of difficulty as, for example, the kids from Quebec. It was a bit of an eye-opener for them, but theyre just at the stage and age right now where they still have the time and ability to get to that level, said PMFC program director Karen MacDonald.

The Junior Nationals course was similar to a World Cup course, longer with bigger jumps, which according to Ms. MacDonald was intimidating for the kids during their first day of training. After the first day, all three athletes received a pep talk.

They’ve got really great mental toughness, all three of them. We’ve done a lot of visualization training with them and they blew us away with their confidence, said Ms. MacDonald.

Both Olivia and Thomas have been skiing with the club for the past eight years. The pair qualified for Jr. Nationals through points accumulated last year.

Thomas and Olivia, they competed at a few of the provincial competitions in Alberta last year, so they gained points that way, said Ms. MacDonald.

As for Avery, he’s been skiing with the club for the last two years and qualified for the Junior Nationals through points accumulated this year on the BC Timber Tour.

He’s just progressed an amazing amount over the last few years in Moguls. He wanted to focus on slopestyle, which is park, but we’re trying to push him toward doing more Moguls just because his level is incredible, said Ms. MacDonald.

In preparation for the Junior Nationals, the athletes had other competitions as well as a four-day training camp at Panorama Mountain Resort. After their performances in Quebec, Ms. MacDonald stated to The Pioneer that they’re actually in the eyes of the national development team. As this is the first year that the club has been on the tour circuit, many of the 15 competitive skiers in the club are starting to get points in the ranking system.

So next year there’s definitely a chance that we’ll have more kids at Junior Nationals and then the kids that were at Junior Nationals this year will potentially keep moving up, said Ms. MacDonald.

For Olivia, Thomas, and Avery, they’re already looking forward to training year-round with spring and summer training being offered to them this year. As the club is expanding and working towards being more competitive among other clubs, they will be hiring coaches for next season. Anyone interested in coaching for the Panorama Mountain Freeride Club is asked to email programdirector@pmfc.ca.