Two Rossland teens are on their way to Europe to see if they’re the best in the world at cross-country skiing.
Remi and Jasmine Drolet left last Tuesday to compete in the 2019 Nordic Junior World Ski Championships later this month in Finland.
“I’m feeling pretty good, I feel I’m a much better skier than I was two years ago, last time I went,” says 18-year-old Remi Drolet. “I think I’m in really good shape, I’ve had a good year of training so far.”
While Remi’s an old hand at international competition — he competed in 2016 — his sister Jasmine’s a little more unsure of what it will be like.
“I’m really nervous,” says the 16-year-old Jasmine. “I don’t know how I’m going to do.
“Probably not that good,” she adds, laughing. But in the same breath, she says her coach, Dave Wood, has set her up to be among the best.
“He taught us it’s really important to believe in yourself and the training you’ve done and that you can do it,” she says. “And that even if you don’t win you’re still OK, because you’re the best.”
The siblings spent the Christmas holidays practising anywhere from one to four hours a day, mixing long, easy runs with short, intense sprints.
“I’m a bit tired now because of the training, but I’m looking forward to it,” says Remi.
He says the most important thing to do right now has nothing to do with skiing.
“One of the main focuses is to not get sick,” he says. “Two years ago, I got sick right before we left, so that really affected my performance because then you can’t get the training you need, and you are still recovering.
“So not getting sick right now is possibly more important than training.”
To help acclimatize the athletes, they’ll be spending the next week or so at a training complex in Norway, practising and taking part in some warm-up races. The practice sessions allow them to get used to European track conditions, as well as shake off any jet lag before the main competition.
Neither athlete knows exactly which races they’ll be taking part in at Lahti, Finland, as that will be determined by their performance over the next two weeks.
Remi and Jasmine haven’t talked much about what Jasmine, the younger sibling, can expect in her first international competition. But her older brother might not be the model of calm experience right now anyway.
“I probably have more butterflies this time,” Remi says. “The first time I went there wasn’t a big expectation for me. I didn’t go into the season wondering what I had to do to qualify and do well there, whereas this year it is one of my big goals.”
The Drolets aren’t the only members of the local Black Jack Ski Club heading to Europe to take part in the competition.
Kimberley skier Molly Miller, who also trains in Rossland with Dave Wood, qualified by winning the five-kilometre cross-country skate race in Canmore in December.
Having three athletes from the club qualify is an extraordinary feat, considering that the Canadian team will be comprised of just 10 junior and 10 U-23 athletes from across the country.