Kamloops athlete pursues ski cross dream

When asked by a New York Times reporter why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest, British mountaineer George Leigh Mallory answered “Because it’s there.”
Similarly, many wonder why athletes would even attempt an extreme sport like ski cross. If you ask local athlete Bryann Palmer this question, she’d just say “Why not?”
For those who aren’t familiar with the sport, think high-speed downhill skiing combined with freestyle on a motocross style course. Four skiers simultaneously race to the bottom of a winding course riddled with jumps, rollers, tabletops and berms at 70 to 80 kilometres per hour. It’s a high adrenaline, highly competitive sport and it’s definitely not for the faint of heart.

The Kamloops native is enthused to hone her skills and grow as an athlete as part of the B.C. Ski Cross Team this year. “I’ve been training since the spring, just dryland training, getting myself prepared right now.”

“I’m kind of an adrenaline junkie but having the base of alpine skiing and knowing that I’m comfortable in freestyle as well (will help me excel in this sport),” said Palmer who’s also been a coach for the Nancy Greene Ski League for the past three years.

Because of ski cross’ huge popularity and potential, the International Olympic Committee has decided to include it as an official Olympic sport for the upcoming games.

Drew Hetherington, head coach of the B.C. Ski Cross Team, thinks this move is a great idea. “It’s one of the best things that could ever happen to skier cross. In years previous, it’s been a grassroots sport and it’s nice to see the sport evolve and become a mainstay especially here in Canada,” said Hetherington. “Our Canadian team is one of the strongest in the world and bringing the sport back home is huge. Everybody’s expecting great things from (the Canadian National team) and I think they’ll deliver.”

Recognizing an excellent opportunity, 19-year-old Palmer is hoping for a chance to become an Olympic forerunner for the 2010 Games. Palmer is eagerly awaiting the result of her application from the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC). VANOC will choose a group of eight male forerunners and between four to eight female forerunners for the Olympics who’ll ski the course at the beginning of the competition to ensure a level playing field for the athletes. Her ultimate goal is to join the Canadian ski cross team and to follow after the footsteps of her role model, skier cross champ Aleisha Cline.

Currently taking the paramedics program at the Justice Institute, Palmer will be mixing school with competing as early as November and then moving into training full mode once the snow comes in December. The one thing she struggles with, as most athletes can attest, is finding sponsorships. “Financially, it’s demanding,” she said. “I’ve always given 115 per cent,” she said. “It’s not even a dream anymore. It’s become a goal, a reality and I’m happy. I’ve never been happier with what I’m doing.”

Anyone who would like to financially support Palmer’s athletic pursuits can phone her at 250-554-2899.

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