William Lake’s Austin Boehm will be looking to soak in the experience later this month when he competes as a member of Team Canada at the 2020 FIS Junior Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championships.
Boehm was announced last week as one of 10 ski cross athletes who will represent the nation on the world stage in St. Lary, France to compete March 19-21.
“I’m super pumped on having the chance to compete at worlds,” Boehm told the Tribune. “I kind of knew I was in the running for a while, but was just focusing on maintaining my skiing and keeping on doing well this season.”
Boehm, who is 18 years old and graduated from Lake City Secondary School in 2019, skis as a member of the Okanagan Ski Team and is in the midst of his most successful season to date.
To kick things off, Boehm started the season with a bang, bringing home the gold medal at the under-19 Canadian nationals in ski cross and has placed in the top five in his NorAm (North American) Cup races consistently throughout the year.
“Starting the season off with that win was the highlight so far, I would say, and it gave me the momentum I needed for the rest of the races,” he said.
While he said the Okanagan Ski Team doesn’t typically have a “home base” due to the sheer amount of travel and volume of race schedule, Boehm said he trains at Apex in Penticton, with the Evolved Ski Cross Team in Calgary and at Lake Louise and at the Nakiska Ski Area.
Now, in preparation for the world juniors in France, Boehm said due to team members being scattered across Canada skiers will meet there prior to the event to get acclimated.
“I’m just looking forward to it,” he said. “It’s the best ski cross racers in the world who are under 21 years old.”
Asked if he has set any goals for himself, he said being one of the younger racers on the team, he’s just looking to have fun and learn as much as he can from the experience.
“It’s my first year there and, obviously, winning is always the goal, but I want to have fun and experience Europe for the first time. It’s going to be so cool.”
David Ellis, the high performance director of the Canadian Ski Cross team, meanwhile, said he’s excited to see all of the athletes compete at such a high level.
“It is our hope that over the next two or three years they are clear medal contenders at this event. It is vital to the development of our athletes that they get opportunities like this,” Ellis said.
Canada has a strong history of success at the Junior World Championships, with Marielle Thompson, India Sherret, Mikayla Martin and Zoe Chore claiming titles in 2013, 2015, 2018 and 2019, respectively.
In 2016, Kris Mahler brought home the bronze medal for Canada. Zach Belcyzk and Alexa Velcic earned silver and bronze respectively in 2017, while Gavin Rowell brought home silver in 2019.
Boehm said when the announcement was made he’d been selected as a member of Team Canada, the outpouring of support he received from the community in Williams Lake was phenomenal.
“I just love the community support I’ve received,” he said.
The team will be head coached by Jordan Williams, and is as follows:
• Emeline Bennet (Whistler Mountain Ski Club Ski Cross, B.C., 2003)
• Austin Boehm (Okanagan one Team, B.C., 2001)
• Samantha Carter (Evolve Ski Cross, Alta., 2001)
• Sarah Clarke (Alberta Ski Cross, Alta., 2000)
• Zach Reynolds (Alberta Ski Cross, Alta., 1999)
• Gavin Rowell (Canadian Ski Cross Team, B.C., 1999)
• Sage Stefani (Evolve Ski Cross, B.C., 2002)
• Phillip Tremblay (Alberta Ski Cross, Alta., 1999)
• Kiersten Vincett (Alberta Ski Cross, Alta. 2000)
• Andrew Wilson (SX Sunshine, Alta., 1999)
While many of the athletes competed last year at the 2019 FIS Junior Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championships in Reiteralm, Austria, it will be the first time for Boehm, along with Reynolds, Wilson, Stefani, Carter and Bennet.
At last year’s event Rowell finished second, while Tremblay placed 43rd. On the women’s side Clarke finished ninth, while Vincett placed 25th.
The 2020 FIS Junior Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championships are open to ski cross athletes born 1999-2003.