Smith off to nationals with Whistler contingent 

Seven WMSC skiers will head to Collingwood

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - nice view Whistler Mountain Ski Club's Gabby Smith, shown topping the U18 podium in Nakiska earlier this season, hopes to see the same sights at U18 nationals.
  • Photo submitted
  • nice view Whistler Mountain Ski Club's Gabby Smith, shown topping the U18 podium in Nakiska earlier this season, hopes to see the same sights at U18 nationals.

There's a difference between skiing poorly and skiing well with a couple of mistakes.

It's a distinction Gabby Smith is making this year.

The 17-year-old Whistler Mountain Ski Club (WMSC) member hasn't quite been able to pull off the results she's been hoping for this season, but feels she's on the verge of something big.

It's an encouraging feeling to have on the eve of the biggest event of the year, U18 Nationals in Collingwood, Ont. The technical races will run from Feb. 23 to 26.

"I've had a tough season so far for tech events. I've been skiing really well. I just haven't had the results I've been looking for just because of mistakes. I can't really put a run together yet," she said. "I'm excited for nationals because I think I can put it all together."

Smith stresses having the right mindset when dealing with such situations, understanding that given her approach, it's hard to be flawless, but the recovery is critical. Even in the face of some frustration, she still sits third in the Fidelity BC Cup standings, with teammate Katie Fleckenstein topping the table.

"I'm the type of person that likes to push it and give it 100 per cent every run. You need to know that it's not going to be perfect every run, but you need to be able to push through it and continue on with it and learn if it doesn't go the way you want it to," she said. "I've just been trying to keep a good attitude through it all. I know I've been skiing well and something I need to keep in the back of my mind is just staying forward."

In addition to her excitement to go back east, as much of her family is from Ontario and she spends summers there, she feels the conditions will be well suited to her style.

"The hill is going to be a lot icier than home, but I'm excited because I actually perform better on icy snow — skiing in Austria and Europe and Chile, it's all hard snow and that's where I've been skiing the best. I'm excited to get back to Ontario and show people what I can do," she said.

"I feel more confident on it, that the ski's going to bite if I press it at the right time. I think I can get a lot of acceleration out of the turns that way instead of just getting stuck in a rut."

After years of excelling at tech skiing, Smith found herself performing better in the speed events this season. While pleased with those performances, including topping the U18 field at a recent super-G race at Nakiska, she feels determined to regain the tech prowess she's displayed before.

"It's always been the other way. But I know the tech side of me is still in me," she said. "Even though it hasn't gone exactly how I planned on the tech side of things, I know this is a good opportunity to turn it around."

Other WMSC skiers attending nationals include Fleckenstein and Laura Swaffield on the women's side and Kole Harle, Alexander Valentin, Kyle Alexander and Asher Jordan on the men's side.



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