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Sascha Gilbert earns national ski-team berth

The Whistlerite has joined the new CAST D developmental program

Local skier Sascha Gilbert has taken a big step forward in his career by being named to the brand-new “CAST D” national team. 

CAST D is the product of unprecedented cooperation between Alpine Canada, various provincial and territorial sport organizations, and the athletes themselves. Its aim is to gather top Canadian U21 skiers and offer them national-level resources to expedite skill development. 

Gilbert joins the fold alongside Kyle Blandford, Pierick Charest and Jesse Kertesz-Knight among men, and he’s pleased to say the least. 

“It's pretty massive because this is something that I've been dreaming of since I was… I don’t even know,” Gilbert said honestly. “I started really racing around [age] 12, and as you go through the years, you’re doing everything with the goal that one day you're going to be on the national team. Now that it's happened, it's pretty exciting.” 

Added men’s alpine head coach John Kucera in a press release: “Congratulations to the athletes who have been nominated to the team. They have all put in significant effort on and off the snow to achieve this nomination. I am very excited for the introduction of the CAST D Team and look forward to all of our staff working to support the athletes on their journey to the podium.”

Formative years

Gilbert’s parents always knew that they would put him and his sister into a winter sport. Their choice was between hockey and skiing, but the latter allowed the family to spend time outside rather than in an arena. 

This move naturally brought Gilbert up to Whistler, where he’s resided for over eight years. As a young child, he enjoyed freeride skiing but ultimately followed a pack of his pals into the racing side of things. Gilbert’s love of sending it downhill grew with each positive jump in his development, and he knows that alpine skiing was the right choice. 

Gilbert made sure to shout out the bevy of coaches who have taken him under their wing. Chief among this group are Team B.C.’s Morgan Pridy and Dustin Koepke, who helped him revamp his entire approach to sport over the last two years. Before that, there was Drew Hetherington of the Whistler Mountain Ski Club (WMSC), Morgan’s brother Conrad Pridy and Richard Jagger, who’s since moved to Alberta. 

“I can't say how important coaches are in the skiing world,” Gilbert emphasized. “A good coach can truly make or break anything.” 

‘Put your nose in it’

A relatively versatile athlete, Gilbert excels at the disciplines of giant slalom, super-G and downhill. He especially appreciates the first two and the abilities they have pushed him to foster. 

“The audience is able to see the two opposite ends of the ski spectrum [with the speed of downhill and the technicality of slalom], but the two middle ones bring a pretty good mix,” said Gilbert. “In giant slalom, you’re going really fast but you also have to make lots of turns in a short amount of time. A lot of people think of GS as the base discipline, the building block.

“And to have success in super-G, you need to know where to be smart and where to let yourself go. A term I always use is ‘put your nose in it.’ When I’m inspecting, I'm picking out parts of the course that are going to be more turning-heavy, and then I'm picking out parts I'm going to be able to attack on and gain speed through.” 

Gilbert also credits part of his development to how he was trained as a youth. While he never specialized outright in freeride, coaches like Hetherington would often take him up the mountain to ski powder. As a result, he’s learned to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations—a level of poise that serves him well in each and every race. 

Needless to say, Gilbert intends to take full advantage of his opportunity with CAST D. World Championships and Olympic berths are long-term goals, but for now he intends to keep grinding as a full Nor-Am season awaits. The 20-year-old also expects to race the Europa Cup super-G in Wengen, Switzerland on the same course that World Cup skiers tackle. 

View the full 2024/25 Alpine Canada roster at