Freestylers thrilled for big slopes

Four downhill skiers from Shames Mountain are joining the slide of athletes at Winter Games this weekend.

Freeskiers Jared Thornton

Four downhill skiers from Shames Mountain are joining the slide of athletes at Winter Games this weekend. The skiers include Tom Yasinchuk and Michaela Yeo, from Terrace, and Jared Thornton and Nick Ferguson, from Kitimat, competing with other B.C. skiers at the Apex Mountain Resort west of Pentiction.

Competing in single moguls, slope style and big air, the competition will not be too familiar, since Shames does not have those specific facilities, said coach Chance Healey.

Terrace’s Michaela Yeo competed in alpine skiing with the Smithers team at the games a few years ago, but then switched to freestyle because that was the focus of the Shames club.

“It will be nice this year to go [to the games] with the team I am actually on,” Yeo said. “The team is really like a second family considering I see them every weekend.”

Yeo said she is excited to meet other athletes from all different sports, staying at schools with them and doing dances and other activities.

As for the competition, Yeo said it’s nerve wracking because the hill will be totally different, but it is exciting to go to new places with different conditions. The size of the slopes, number of people, new competitors and professionalism all excited Yeo.

“Your expectations of yourself are so much higher there,” she said, recalling the thrilling mixture of nervousness and excitement at the starting line count down.

Coach Healey said the professionalism is a key aspect of the games, opening a broader understanding of what the competitive world is like.

Healey said that will be important for Terrace’s Yasinchuk, testing his capabilities and giving a feel for high-up competition.

“Every kid wants to be a pro something,” Healey said. “This is kind of giving him some of that information that can help him and his family make that decision as to whether he wants to pursue the sport farther.”

Healey says Thornton and Ferguson will be less intimidated by the competition, as they have competed at a high level before.