If there’s a different way to go down the hill, skiers seem to find it.
First there was the simple roll yourself up into a ball and roll down the hill. Next there was the simple sit on a branch and slide down. Progress that up to the sled, the toboggan, and then some bright light came up with the idea of skis.
Long boards strapped to feet and then straight down the hill. Then we had flags to go around in a kind of obstacle course. And then it was flippy doodles, somersaults and who knows what else to make it interesting.
A relatively recent development is that of ski-cross. A ski-cross course consists of natural features as well as high jumps, rollers and banked turns.
Perhaps the most unique feature is that the races are not just solo timed runs but also includes a series of four skier races after time trials to select the fastest skiers. Groups of four skiers start at the same time and try to eliminate each other.
We do not yet have a dedicated ski-cross run here at Hudson Bay Mountain. That lack has led local ski-cross enthusiast Jason Oliemans to move to Calgary where he is attempting to hone his skills to the point where he hopes he can join the World Cup circuit with the Canadian team. He currently competes on the North America Cup circuit.
“I started off with regular skiing and eventually tried ski-cross and I really liked it,” said Oliemans, currently home for the holiday break.
“There was supposed to be an event in Calgary in mid-December but it got cancelled. This winter I am living and training in Calgary,” he said.
Since British Columbia does not have a ski-cross team, he has become a member of the Alberta ski-cross team. Ski-cross has been in the X-Games for quite some time but since 2004 has become part of the Freestyle World Cup series and made it’s first appearance in the Olympics in 2010.
“In either four years or eight years I would like to make the Olympic team,” he said.
Currently he is busy recovering from an injury to his heel.
“I’m hoping by the end of the holidays that I’ll be back skiing,” he said.
Oliemans has high goals for the future.
“Hopefully if things go well this year, I can move up from the Alberta team to the national team which is also based out of Calgary,” he said.
He said that the two teams work closely together and often train in the same place.
Oliemans described the skis involved in ski-cross as similar to those used in giant slalom
“They are different in that they are from those used in regular skiing. Compared to those skis used in regular downhill skiing, they tend to be longer for greater speed and skinnier for more control.
Oliemans feels that the Canadian ski-cross team is one of the best teams in the world, if not the absolute best.
“We’ll be in medal contention in both the girls and the guys,” he said.
He said that while he might not be able to race in World Cup events that he may be able to attend, he would probably get a chance to ski the course as part of an effort the check the timing equipment that is used on the course.