Yukoners At Canada Winter Games

Five young Yukon skiers in P.E.I. for this year’s Canada Winter Games
A freestyle skier
A Yukon athlete trains at Mt. Sima ahead of the Canada Winter Games in P.E.I. Photo: Courtesy of YFSA

The 2023 Canada Winter Games, officially called XXVII Canada Games, are taking place Feb. 18 to March 5 and will be hosted in P.E.I. where 3,600 athletes, from all over Canada, will make the journey to compete in the multi-sport event, including five of the Yukon’s very own skiers, all in the 15–17 age range.

“They’ve been training all year for it,” Stephanie Robertson, president of Yukon Freestyle Ski Association (YFSA) told What’s Up Yukon. “Three of them have been with the club for seven years, and two of them have been with the club for four years.”

The extensive training for these athletes currently involves doing trampoline twice a week and dryland twice a week, which they do throughout the year, as well as airbag once a week and training on snow, on weekends in the winter, for full days. They usually hit the airbag, as well, on weekends throughout the year, and water ramps in the summer. Last summer, two of the skiers also trained in Whistler, with Olympians on the glacier for 10 days.

“They’re flipping all four different ways and skiing into the jumps backwards and spinning,” Robertson said. “Usually, the team organizes one or two nights a week for a rail session at our house or someone else’s house on the team, and they all get together and hit a backyard rail setup for three or four hours.”

The athletes heading down to P.E.I. for the Games, this year, are Alex Wilson, Jacob Robertson, Jason McKay, Isaac Maddocks, Charlie Fidler and Dash Provan (alternate), who are working with YFSA coaches Lyndsey Boorse and Chris Arsenault. The team’s trip will start with a training day before getting into the competitions, which generally consist of qualifiers in the afternoons and finals at night. The events will also be broadcast so families, friends and fans can cheer on the athletes from home.

“I think most of them are just excited,” Robertson said. “I’m sure the nerves will settle in, the day of or the day before.”

In addition to their rigorous year-round physical training, YFSA’s athletes are mentally prepared, as well, with frequent conversations about run preparation and visualizing, as well as meetings with Tracey Bilsky, sports psychologist and executive director of Sport Yukon.

“They talk about fear and anxiety and [Bilsky] gives them a lot of tools to work through it, so we encourage them to use those tools,” said Robertson.

Looking beyond this year’s Canada Winter Games, Robertson said she hopes her athletes will be participating in next year’s Canada Cup Series, as well as in a variety of events hosted within the Yukon. As of now, though, the focus is on the P.E.I. trip.

“It’s going to allow them to make new friends and build connections within the freestyle community,” said Robertson. “We’re also going to encourage them to go and watch other sports and support our other Yukon athletes.”
To learn more about YFSA, visit yukonfreestyleski.com.

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