by Emily Nishikawa
Ski Tour Canada was the event that concluded the 2015/2016 World Cup season. In case you missed it, it was eight races in 12 days in four cities across Canada in a tour format. This event was by far the highlight of my season!
The Tour was an incredible opportunity for development skiers from across North America. Canada and the U.S. were able to start many more skiers than the typical World Cup quota. This resulted in a total team size of 26 athletes from Canada. It was so exciting to watch many of my teammates start their first World Cups and have breakthrough performances here on home soil. This was also an incredible opportunity for the next generation of racers to see a World Cup in person. It is not the same as watching on TV!
As a racer, this was the event I looked forward to all season. I was thrilled to be part of such a great team of Canadian skiers. The Eastern venues were all very unique and showcased some of Canada's most beautiful cities. Canmore, Alta. put on a show with its world-class trails and some amazing spring weather as well! The best part for me was seeing so many North American fans lining the trails to cheer. I could hear so many people calling my name, and that energy really carried me along. It was exciting to see so many young Canadian fans out watching and cheering on their heros and being inspired. Each day, I would give my race bib to a young fan after the race, and it was inspiring for me to see how many young people are getting excited about our sport.
I remember watching the World Cup races in 2005 at Sovereign Lake, B.C. and thinking that someday I'd like to be there. I know countless others who had that same experience this year at the Ski Tour Canada, and I find that incredibly exciting.
Another perk of racing at home was having my family there. My younger brother lives in Montreal, and he was able to watch the second stage. My parents came from Whitehorse to watch the Canmore stages, and my older brother and sister-in-law were able to make it to the last stage. It was so special having family and friends out cheering me on every day of the entire Tour.
I was really proud to finish the Tour. It is a very grueling sched- ule with many races so close together and a lot of travel in between each stage. I was able to remain healthy throughout the entire event. We had an amazing support team of coaches, wax techs, massage therapists and staff all working tirelessly to make sure we had everything we needed to succeed. It was an honour to be a part of such a hard-working team.
Thank you to everyone who made this event possible and such a success. I feel so grateful to have had the opportunity to race the Ski Tour Canada. I really hope to get another chance to race on home soil because it is just so much fun!
(right) Nishikawa was excited to race on home snow at Ski Tour Canada with fans and family cheering her on.