Young competitive freestyle skiers now officially have a training program in Sun Peaks.
The Sun Peaks Freestyle Club will begin training on Dec. 19, giving skiers who have participated in the local freestyle lesson program an opportunity to prepare for competition.
The club includes seven skiers between the ages of nine and 11 who will train every Saturday for 11 weeks under the tutelage of their coach Daniel Hoerz.
The skiers began with a freestyle lesson program through Sun Peaks’ ski school, which launched in 2011, and are now ready to take their talents to the next level.
“I think it’s important because there’s a group of kids that are at that level,” said Vincent Lafontaine, sports director for Sun Peaks Resort LLP (SPR). “They’ve been in the freestyle regular program for three or four years and they’re ready to go a little further and be a little bit more focused in their training and be a little bit more competitive.”
The Freestyle Club is only open to skiers as Lafontaine said there has not been a high demand from snowboarders.
In addition to the training program, the freestylers will also enter three competitions held at Apex from Jan. 6 to 8, at Sun Peaks on March 13 and at Silver Star from March 30 to April 3. The club’s training will focus primarily on the slopestyle discipline of freestyle skiing.
“I think some of those kids are really, really good and could do quite well. I’m really curious to see how the results go,” Lafontaine said.
The demand to create the competitive freestyle program was largely driven by the parents of the young skiers and will start with a small number of members because of the lack of available coaches.
“It’s new. That’s why I didn’t want to put it out there and I didn’t want 15 kids to register because I don’t have enough coaches that I feel can deliver,” Lafontaine said.
“I wouldn’t put more kids with one coach than seven, especially with the freestyle. We’re at capacity right now.”
Attracting new, qualified freestyle coaches has been a challenge for Lafontaine who said certified coaches are busy working in their respective clubs.
Lafontaine is working to hold a certification course at Sun Peaks, and he said if they can get an instructor he guarantees at least five coaches will go through the training. He said his hope is to have the course take place early in 2016.
“The goal is to grow, but I need the expertise. I need the coaching. I try to recruit all year and I’m trying to put a course together,” he said.
The goal is to eventually expand the club to stand on its own, similar to the Sun Peaks Alpine Club.
“My goal is to eventually branch out and make it on its own and have some fundraising a little bit like what the Alpine Club does, but it’s in its infancy right now so we’re going to see where we are in five years,” Lafontaine said.