Teen has sights on the summit
It takes a special kind of individual to become a provincial alpine ski champion at only thirteen years of age: the kind who doesn’t mind training almost every day of the week, even when the high temperature of the day is only -22. Last week, on a day when the temperature was so frigid
I couldn’t bring myself to venture outside for a quick snow-shoe, I spoke with the young Magog ski phenomenon Ingrid Gendron late in the afternoon, after she’d been training all day on the slopes of Mt. Edouard, near Chicoutimi.
Last winter’s provincial champion of the slalom in the 13 to 14 year-old category, Ingrid went on to compete at the CanAm Cup at Mt. Tremblant in March where she was impressive enough, with two top ten finishes, to garner an invitation to represent Team Canada at the annual Whistler Cup, held last April, in British Colombia.
This year’s juvenile competitive skiing season begins in just a few weeks, however, Ingrid has been training since October, having earned herself a position on the Equipe Élite Alpin de l’Estrie, a team of eighteen athletes from the following ski clubs: Adstock, Bromont, Orford, Owl’s Head and Sutton. These athletes, all between 13 and 19 years old, follow an intensive program spread over eight months, training five days a week during the regular season. The athletes also travel to attend special training camps early in the season long before the snow starts to fall around here, going as far as Austria and Panorama Mountain, in British Colombia, back in late fall. “I’ve been skiing at Orford since I was three years old and I began racing when I was eight. I liked it right away!” commented Ingrid in the interview, her enthusiasm coming through loud and clear. “When I was at the Whistler Cup last year I was the youngest skier there. I got beat by six seconds, so I learnt that I had to try much harder.”
“This year’s races will be starting in just a few weeks; January and February are going to be very busy months,” said Ingrid. Her first races are regional, beginning on January 19th, at Owl’s Head. “This first race is an important one. Points from last year and this first race will determine if the athlete will be classified as U16 or U16 Can-am. U16 Canam athletes will participate in FIS (International Ski Federation) races this year and will also get the chance to pick up FIS points for a better position (start) for the next year,” explained Ingrid’s mother, Penny Tétreault. Following the regional races are the provincials, followed by the Can-Am and the Whistler Cup, as long as Ingrid continues to ski like the ‘speed demon’ she appears to be.
“My aim this year is to finish first of the 14 year olds. That’s my main goal but it would be really nice to be able to go back to Whistler,” explained Ingrid.
A student of College Notre-Dame des Servites, in Ayer’s Cliff, Ingrid admitted that keeping up with school work is a real challenge when you spend so much time on the slopes. “I always have to be careful to organize my time really well to get all my schoolwork done. You have to bring the homework on the ski trips with you,” Ingrid mentioned. “But the hardest thing is probably the cold. I’m not great with the cold when it gets to be about -20 and -22, and when it’s really windy that’s the worst. But we train anyway; even if it’s just a few runs, it’s better than nothing. It’s the price you have to pay for your sport.”
And that’s not the only price. There’s also an annual, almost $20,000 price tag to train and compete on the elite Estrie team. Thankfully, Ingrid has received a $1500 grant from the Annie-Perreault Golf Tournament to go towards her training and a spaghetti dinner fundraiser is also being organized for February 23rd and will be held at Mont Orford, where it all began. More information about her fundraisers can be found on Ingrid’s website.
Asking the young slalom skier what motivates her to stick with the intensive training, the bumps and bruises and sore muscles, she surprised me with her answer: “I really like the feeling of being outside, out in the fresh air, and being with friends. And I love the adrenaline rush that you feel right at the start of each race!” Her plans for the future: “I hope I reach the Olympics one day!”
Although most people aren’t too pleased with the amount of snow we’ve received so far this winter, skiers, of course, look at things differently. “This is the most snow I’ve seen in three years. It really makes the skiing better!”
Magog skier Ingrid Gendron after she won last season’s provincial championship.
Alpine skier Ingrid Gendron has been training since November for this season’s competitive races.