2019 Canada Winter Games: Spotlight on skiing and snowboarding

Alpine skiing and snowboarding hit the slopes during the 2019 Canada Winter Games. (Contributed photo)

Snow and sky become one when the winter athletes of freestyle skiing, alpine skiing and snowboard come flying down the hill.

Freestyle skiing has been a part of Canadian sport since the mid 1970s. Over the years the sport has expanded to feature seven disciplines; five of the disciplines are a part of the Canada Games: moguls, aerials, slopestyle, big air and halfpipe. Freestyle skiing has been a part of the Canada Winter Games since 1995.

Canada has dominated the world of freestyle skiing as athletes have won more World Cup medals than any other country. But it takes a lot of training to get to this point. Skiers do not limit their training to only the winter months. During the summer, athletes train on trampolines and water ramps.

Deidra Dionne is not only a board member for the 2019 Canada Winter Games, she is also a notable Canada Games freestyle skiing alumna. Jennifer Heil is also a Canada Games athlete that went on to compete and win in the Olympics.

Canyon Ski Resort will host four of the freestyle events and WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park hosts halfpipe.

Alpine skiing has been a prominent part of the Canada Games since its inception in 1967. It has remained a part of every Canada Winter Games with the exception of Prince Edward Island in 1991. Para-alpine made its debut at the 2011 Canada Winter Games.

Within alpine skiing there are four events: super-combined, giant slalom, slalom and ski cross.

In ski cross, a group of four skiers start simultaneously to complete the course. Slalom is the shortest course in alpine skiing, but requires speed and agility to negotiate the quick turns. Giant slalom is very similar to slalom, as its name dictates; however, it is a longer course with increased vertical distance between fewer gates. Super G combines the speed of downhill with the precision turns of giant slalom.

Felix Belczyk was a Canada Games alumni in alpine skiing who went on to compete in the Olympics and was inducted into the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame.

Alpine skiers race through the gates at Canyon Ski Resort and Nakiska Ski Resort during week two of the 2019 Canada Winter Games.

Snowboard athletes can get just as much air and gain just as much speed on a single board, though snowboarding did start with two boards.

Modern snowboarding started with the Snurfer, created by Sherman Poppen. It started out as two skis bound together and stabilized by the rider holding onto a rope attached to the front. Snowboarding started out as merely a recreational sport, but through the years snowboarding has developed it own subculture.

The international community of snowboarders organized in the 1990s with the creation of the International Snowboard Federation (ISF).

Since snowboard’s inception as an established winter sport, it has developed various styles, with their own specialized equipment and technique. The most common styles are: freeride, freestyle and freecarve.

Breanna Stangland competed with Team Alberta at the 2007 Canada Games and went on to compete for the national team. Probably one of the biggest names in snowboarding right now is Mark McMorris who competed in the 2007 Canada Games as well.

Slopestyle, parallel giant slalom and snowboard cross hit the hill at Canyon Ski Resort in February. WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park hosts halfpipe during the 2019 Canada Winter Games.

For more information on the 2019 Canada Winter Games, please visit www.canadagames.ca/2019.

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