When central Alberta skier Megan Cressey earned a silver medal at the 2019 Canada Winter Games, it was one stop on a journey she hopes will take her to the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
The Sylvan Lake-area athlete is one of four siblings who all learned to ski almost from the time they could walk.
Her older brother and sister were also competitive skiers, until Dustin retired to start university and Bryana was sidelined by injury.
While their younger brother, Logan, chooses to skis for fun, freestyle skiing has been more of a calling for Megan.
The recent graduate of H.J. Cody High School in Sylvan Lake started out at the Innisfail ski hill as a child, then joined the Central Alberta Freestyle Team — which practised at the Canyon Ski Resort — when she was in Grade 5.
Megan began learning how to do complicated jumps on a trampoline to reduce risk of serious injury. She also practised landing on an air bag, and later trained in jumping from the water ramp at Three Mile Bend during summer months.
Now the 19-year-old skis up to four days a week at Calgary’s Olympic Park. In the early fall, she gets a jump-start on the season by attending a training camp in New Zealand.
As her parents told her, “you can always go back to school, but you can’t go back to skiing. It’s now or never,” says Megan, who believes determination has been her greatest asset.
“I didn’t have normal teenage years,” she admits. Her competitive schedule required taking some high school classes online. She also remembers feeling an occasional pang at missing some fun activities with her friends while she travelling to competitions across North America.
“But I’ve always wanted to focus on skiing to see where it could take me,” adds Megan, who feels making the perfect jump “is so exciting!
“It’s so awesome to finally land something. You’re so stoked, and your teammates are so stoked for you… It’s amazing!”
Getting the silver medal in slope-style skiing last week at the 2019 Canada Winter Games at Canyon Ski Resort fulfills part of a long-held dream for the skier. “I thought, this is why I’m doing it,” said Megan, who was thrilled to take the podium in front of friends and relatives at Canyon Ski Resort, reassured her training is paying off.
Megan says she also enjoyed socializing and pin trading with competitors from other provinces during the Games.
While her performance in the big air event didn’t live up to her expectations, Megan is hoping to do better in a North American competition next month in California.
“My main goal is to reach the Olympics one day — hopefully in 2022.”