Two athletes from the Junior Racing team at Nelson Nordic Ski Club have been recognized for their commitment to the pursuit of high performance goals in their sport.
Maya Abraham, 14, has been named to the Cross Country BC Ski Team Development Squad while Aleah Smith, 12, was named to the Talent Squad, a feeder program to the Development Squad.
In 2020, Maya raced to a bronze medal and two fourth place finishes at the BC Games in Fort St. John, BC, and had many strong results in regional racing.
In 2020, Smith also had many strong showings in regional races, including gold medals in Teck Kootenay Cup races and fourth and fifth place finishes (and a technical excellence award) at the Teck BC Midget Championship racing in Kamloops.
Although the athletes were not able to formally compete this year due to COVID-19 restrictions against racing, they have shown exceptional commitment to training and skills development over the course of the 2021 season.
“Making the BC Development Squad, motivates me to train harder between camps and gives me a chance to compare and improve,” says Abraham, a first-year U16 athlete who will complete 400 hours of training in her annual regimen, with Nordic skiing and trail running in the off-season.
“I also love seeing my friends from around the province in the summer and fall. My main challenge this season has been trying to find ways to stay motivated without the prospect of races in the future. Training can sometimes seem pointless without races but my team always motivates me.”
Smith, a hard-working, motivated athlete who always wears a smile and gives every challenge her best effort, trains year-round, with a mix of Nordic skiing and trail running.
“For me, being on the Talent Squad means training experiences with other athletes and coaches from across BC,” Smith said.
Next steps for the athletes, as long as Covid protocols will allow it, include training camps both for dryland training and on-snow. These camps include kids from across the province. If racing is allowed again next season, Smith will set her sights on making the BC Games team. Meanwhile, Abraham will be targeting the national championships, as they are currently scheduled to take place in BC.
“Icannot be prouder of the entire ski team this year,” says Doris Hausleitner, one of the team’s dedicated volunteer coaches.
“They were supportive and encouraging of each other. In some ways the pandemic opened up opportunities to train strength, endurance and technique as we were not travelling for races. This is a group of dedicated young athletes and having two of their members make squads of this calibre in the province is testament to the strength of the team as a whole.”
Formed in 1979, Nelson Nordic Ski Club is a thriving non-profit organization that manages and operates the cross-country ski trails at Apex, Busk and Clearwater, south of Nelson. The Club currently has over 1,300 members, with an additional large contingent of day users enjoying approximately 30 kilometres of groomed trails. The Club also boasts a well-subscribed school outreach program, extensive youth programs for Jackrabbits, Track Attack and Junior Racers, and a master’s program and learn-to-ski programs for adults.