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I stayed for the skiing!

I stayed for the skiing!
Posted on 05/25/2020
nordic skiingWritten by Kaitlin Wilson and Erin Roach, Student Journalists

While it seems like a completely different world now, sports at St. Joan of Arc Catholic High School (JOA), Barrie, were flourishing during the fall and winter seasons.

An athlete who really stepped up during this time was Preston B., a Grade 13 student who took part in nordic skiing.

Preston’s only skiing experience before joining his school team happened when he was just eight! Nordic skiing was practically a brand new sport to him, and his commitment to his team really shone through. Skating since he was a young boy, Preston found the motions of nordic style skiing easy to pick-up, since they were similar.

In order to move on in competitions, our JOA team needed four people. The team had three until Preston’s friends urged him to try the sport. Coaches Ms. Fraser and Ms. DeOliveira were inclusive and encouraged Preston, and he stepped up and completed the team, providing the school with a surge of hope heading into the Georgian Bay Secondary School Association competition (GBSSA’s).

“Over Christmas break I bought my pass to Horseshoe Valley,” Preston said during a recent interview. He practiced diligently to improve his skills on his own time. “After that, school started again and we had team practices as well.”

Racing started around the end of January and early February. Preston seized his opportunity, going to every race he could. Preston said that he “only needed [to attend] two races in order to qualify” for the GBSSA finals.

A mere two practices after Preston had joined the team, he competed in his first race. The race was a whopping 7.5 km long, and Preston’s time was a respectable 50 minutes. After his first race, Preston now knew what he was training for. The first race introduced him to the ways of nordic skiing, and he did not give up after this.

As weekly races continued into February, Preston grew more and more comfortable with the sport, improving his time with each race. He competed in a second race, and saw tremendous improvements. “The next race I did was almost 28 minutes,” Preston said, ”and then I just got better and better I guess.”
Preston recounts his experience as being “very positive and rewarding”, and a good substitute for his usual sport of hockey. Preston worked hard throughout January and February, and competed in the GBSSA skiing race. He placed 32nd, just missing the OFSAA cutoff of the first 29 students. “It was a hard race, and it's a hard sport,” Preston said. “I still had fun.”

Preston’s advice to anyone considering nordic skiing or any new sport in general is, “if you hear about it and you think about joining, just go ahead and try it.” As is with anything at JOA, get involved! Preston’s story reminds us how important it is to try new things, and take opportunities when you can. You never know when you could discover a new passion or talent that was hidden before.