With a 19th-place finish at the Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne, Switzerland in January, slopestyle snowboarder Juliette Pelchat may not have achieved the results she was looking for, but she came back with a good amount of confidence intact.
The 15-year-old kept her head up and hit back-to-back podiums at the NorAm Cup event at Mount St-Louis Moonstone, Ont. on Feb. 24 and 25, taking second to American Ty Schnorrbusch on both days.
"I was kind of surprised because in the second contest, there were some difficult features and there were some very good riders," she said. "I was super excited to be a part of that experience and ride with all those other riders."
Pelchat has felt on a roll since returning from Switzerland, as she was challenged there with larger features, and she mostly rose to the occasion.
"I hit so many big jumps in Youth Olympics that I was just super confident going into these other contests because I had a lot of experience. I was a lot less scared," she said. "Mindset was a big factor. I was just feeling really confident with the course. It was a good process, also, before that, so I was coming in with lots of confidence."
Over the course of the weekend in Ontario, Pelchat was focused on making steady progress, increasing the rotation and amplitude of her jumps each time out. Though her final run didn't go according to plan, she was still strong enough that it's a level she'll soon attain.
"The first day, I started with an easier run and then stepped it up, and on the second day, I started off where I left off from the day before," she said. "Unfortunately, the second day, I couldn't quite put down my harder one, but my easier one held up at the end of the contest.
"I was really close, so I feel like if I had another opportunity, I'd be able to put it down, for sure.
"I feel like I have more confidence for trying that harder run in my next contest, for sure," she added.
As for the other Whistler representatives, in the first contest, Jackie Carlson was just off the podium in fourth while Maggie Crompton took eighth, and in the second, Crompton rose to fourth while Carlson placed sixth.
In the men's contests, Finn Finestone was the top local in fifth the first day, while Jacob Legault took ninth, Truth Smith was 11th, Jadyn Chomlack placed 20th and Liam Stevens wound up 21st. The next day saw Chomlack place sixth, Legault seventh, Finestone ninth, Smith 10th and Stevens 11th.
At Youth Olympics, Pelchat said that while the contest aspect was difficult, she was excited to be part of something so large, and to meet new people. And, ultimately, the experience will pay off in the long run as she took guidance on how to best prepare for contests in the future.
"We didn't get that much practice beforehand and [the course] was a little bit big for my ability. It was still a great experience and I'm looking forward to more," she said. "I learned to always expect the worst so when it's good, I'll be ready, and when it's bad, I'll be ready, too."