In speed skiing, age is just a number

This year’s participants show that age is just a number when it comes to joining the 2011 Subaru Velocity Challenge and FIS Speed Ski World Cup. What counts more is courage, skill and determination.

Photo John Cleaver

The youngest age that FIS would allow for speed skiing is 15 years old. This year, a handful of participants couldn’t wait to get started. Luckily for them, Velocity Challenge has included a Junior Downhill category for the first time. Joss Advocaat and Elliot Capper are two of the youngest participants at this event.

A Sun Peaks local, Advocaat is following in his father’s footsteps.

“He did it last year and I watched him do it,” said the young Advocaat. “Now I want to do it and I want to beat his time.”

How did his first run go? “It was pretty cool. It was really smooth, like you’re weightless.”

Speed skiing was one of the things Capper always wanted to do and, after turning 15, the British teenager finally has his chance.

“When I moved here about three years ago, I noticed that (news about the race) was going around and I really wanted to do it,” said Capper. “So I applied with the British Speed Ski Team.”

Just like the rest of speed skiing’s cult following, it’s the thrill of the speed that attracted Capper to the sport.

“When I ski, I do like to go fast, and I just wanted to get that feeling. I want to get out of my comfort zone with speed and this is the best way to do it.”

While parents may hesitate about letting their kids compete in extreme sports, having a father who’s into speed skiing helps. When Advocaat said he wanted to compete this year, his dad showed full support. “He said ‘Go at ‘er!’ He was really stoked with me doing it. Lots of enthusiasm.”

Capper’s dad was also thrilled when he signed up. “But my mom—not so happy,” he said. “She’s just obviously being a mother; she’s scared of me crashing. But she’s gonna watch Saturday; they’re proud of me.”

And for those who didn’t start as early as these two, it’s never too late as long as you have the guts to do it.

Just ask 56-year-old John Sharun. A Sun Peaks local, Sharun did it for the first time last year when he signed up for the Downhill race. He’s doing it again this year, but now he’s moved up to the Speed 1 category wearing the full speed skiing regalia.

“I did it last year because it was on my bucket list,” said Sharun. “It was really good, I got hooked!”

“If all goes well, I want to do the European tour next year,” he added.

Today was the first training run for the official races that will be held over the weekend. Ivan Origone from Italy clocked in the fastest time at 115.82 km/h. Finn-Arne Stavik from Norway came in second at 115.69 km/h and Kenny Dale from Sun Peaks is at third place with 115.66 km/h. Organizers had to cancel after one practice run due to strong winds. Training will resume tomorrow at 10 a.m.

To view today’s pictures visit the Velocity Challenge Flickr page. Follow us on Twitter (@subaruvelocity) or on Facebook for live updates.

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