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Sea to Sky sliding athletes gunning for the Youth Olympic Games

Payton Spence, Noah Melun and Talia Melun are headed to South Korea and New York for four key races beginning in March

The road to the 2024 Youth Olympic Winter Games has officially begun for three Sea to Sky sliding athletes based out of the Whistler Sliding Centre (WSC).

Payton Spence, a skeleton racer, has joined monobob pilots Noah and Talia Melun on a weeks-long business trip to Pyeongchang, South Korea and Lake Placid, N.Y. Also taking part is Isaak Ulmer, a bobsledder from Calgary, Alta.

Youth Olympics hopefuls need to compete in eight races to have a chance at qualifying for next year's Games in Gangwon, Korea. The first two will be happening in Pyeongchang, followed by two more in Lake Placid. The remaining events are scheduled for next season, beginning in the fall. 

Spence celebrates her 16th birthday on Feb. 23 and already owns a pair of 11th-place results on the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) North American Cup circuit. The Squamish native is now a consistently fast finisher on her home track at the WSC, and aims to translate her skills abroad. 

"My goal is to medal, and my hope is to learn this track for the 2024 Youth Olympic Games and to get the most out of this experience," said Spence. "This will be my first ever time travelling internationally representing Team Canada, so I'm most excited to experience a new track and meet new people."

Talia is the youngest of the bunch at 14, but she feels like she has grown leaps and bounds over the last year.

"I’ve definitely gotten stronger physically and mentally, and I’ve become a much better pilot as well," said the Whistlerite. "I am constantly learning new things and in the last year I’ve had so many amazing experiences and become a better athlete."