Freestyler Howell qualifies for Jr. Worlds 

Young skier eager to head to Sweden

click to enlarge PHOTO BY SHELLY PRIEST/CANADA WINTER GAMES - Howell roars Josephine Howell is set to attend the FIS Junior World Ski Championships in Sweden next month.
  • Photo by Shelly Priest/Canada Winter Games
  • Howell roars Josephine Howell is set to attend the FIS Junior World Ski Championships in Sweden next month.

Josephine Howell is getting set for Sweden.

The 17-year-old Mount Currie slopestyler has cracked the Canadian contingent for the FIS Junior World Ski Championships in Klappen, Sweden in April, which was not something she had in mind early in the season.

"I'm really, really excited. I've been working up to it for awhile," she said. "I wasn't expecting to get to travel that far this year, but the opportunity came up and I'm really happy about it."

Howell's best friend, former Freestyle Whistler teammate Skye Clarke (now training at Winsport in Alberta) was able to break the good news.

"My best friend texted me. She said I also got a spot to go. I thought she was kidding for a second," Howell recalled.

For Howell, jumping to the Junior World stage will be a huge leap up, especially as she only recently hit the NorAm Cup tour and took part in her first out-of-country competition in Aspen, Colo. less than a month ago.

"We got to compete on the X Games course for the first time, which was really cool," she said. "My parents gave me that trip for my birthday and I never expected to go, but it was a cool experience."

Howell qualified in fifth and placed sixth in the competition, which was a step up from her first two events in Calgary a week prior where she placed 10th in slopestyle and 11th in the halfpipe.

"It was pretty exciting because I was competing against some of the girls I've looked up to for a long time," she said.

Howell described the Aspen course as a monster that she was able to tame, and her ability to do so will give her confidence heading into the Junior Worlds.

"It was probably the scariest thing I've ever done. They didn't change it at all since the actual X Games, so there are 85-foot (26-metre) jumps and rails that I've never seen before in my life," she said. "It was definitely a cool experience and opened my eyes to what the freestyle world has to offer."

Howell said she came into the season looking to increase her ability to do off-axis tricks, which she started at Quebec training centre Maximise and has come along over the course of the campaign.

"(I was) learning how to do different kinds of rotations and I learned how to cork when we were at Maximise and I was really happy to be able to take that to snow this year," she said.

With her surprise success this season, Howell said the additional coaching and travel have busted the family's planned budget, so she is fundraising through MakeAChamp. As of March 12, she had raised over $1,100 of the $5,000 goal. The campaign is available online at makeachamp.com/josephinehowell.

She's eager to represent her country and her club well in Sweden.

"There are some pretty good girls going. Each country is bringing four women, so it's definitely going to be some stiff competition and I think it'll be a good time," she said.

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