Simon D'Artois is already seeing the benefits of a promotion.
The local freestyle skier specializing in halfpipe, who turns 23 next month, was revealed as a member of the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association's A Group last week. He has been part of the B Group since first making the team in 2012, but members do not receive funding from the CFSA unless they are part of the A Group.
"This year, it's not as much fundraising, I'm able to focus more on my skiing," he said. "There's support through my sponsors and support through the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association. Making it onto the A team is really going to help out this season."
Last season, he ultimately raised over $15,000 through different means, including a crowdfunding campaign on the Pursuit website that raised over $11,000. D'Artois felt that needing to pound the pavement to support himself helped reaffirm his love for the sport, as he sought out a spot at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, though fell just short of his goals of competing.
"It motivated me more. I had to focus on fundraising for my season, but also keep my mind on skiing as well and not get sidetracked," said D'Artois, thanking his friends, family, and other supporters. "It was a real motivation to put everything I had into my last season and making it to the Olympics."
The competitive season officially began this week, with qualifying runs at the Copper Mountain Grand Prix taking place on Dec. 3. The finals take place on Dec. 5.
D'Artois is looking forward to this year's X Games in Aspen, Colorado (from Jan. 22 to 25), as it's the biggest event of the year, but he's also excited for the Dew Tour stop in Breckenridge, Colorado, from Dec. 11 to 14.
"It doesn't have the same level of recognition as the X Games, but it definitely is around the same level — same prize money and same competition," he said. "They only have one winter stop, so it's like the X Games, in a sense."
D'Artois plans to work on his switch skiing to boost the level of difficulty of his runs in order to make a splash at the higher level.
"I'm just trying to take as many laps as I can and also focus on the technicality of my runs," he said. "To have more switch skiing in your run, if you can perform it at a high level, then it's definitely going to reward you."
Two other Sea to Sky residents remained on the A team – Whistler's Justin Dorey and Squamish's Mike Riddle.
Dorey, 26, noted there's a bit of a lull in 2014-15 with fewer events, as the Olympics — where he finished 12th in the halfpipe event — haven't quite left athletes' rearview mirror yet.
"It's a little bit more mellow in terms of the amount of contests we do, so I'm stoked about that, because it means that we'll have more time to ski for ourselves and actually progress," he said. "When you have a competition every weekend, it's tough to learn new tricks and change your run because you're just doing the same things over and over again."
Dorey, who recently bought a house in Brio, in particular plans to do more backcountry skiing with that extra personal ski time.
Riddle, 28, is coming off an Olympic silver medal and with his extra time, is looking to try new things heading into this year with a return to normalcy, in a sense.
"Everything at this point is just getting tricks back — not really working on anything new for the first event or two of the season, but probably by January, I'll have new tricks going," he said. "This year, I feel there's a little more freedom to work on different tricks, not necessarily new doubles or technical tricks, but also variations of things that may or may not have been done.
"I think there are going to be cool new tricks that aren't necessarily considered difficult, but are still really interesting to watch."
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