A local ski cross competitor is quickly becoming one of the best in his age group in the province.
Eighteen-year-old Jason Oliemans skied his way to an impressive second place finish on the second day of racing in the Western Canada Ski Cross Series event held at Lake Louise at the end of February.
“The first day I didn’t do quite as well, and then the second day I was able to get ahead of some of them. I was quite happy with my results,” he said.
Oliemans, who was one of the youngest racers in the 16 plus age category, was able to try his hand skiing against much older and more experienced competitors from B.C. and Alberta.
“A bunch of the guys that I was facing were from the Alberta Ski Cross team . . . they’re all pretty much my level or a little better,” he said.
On the first day of racing, he finished fifth in his heat, but Oliemans set his sights higher and decided to change his game plan going into day two.
“I got a hold of some video footage of some of the starts and I saw that all the other competitors got to the first bank turn ahead of me out of the start,” he said.
“They had a quicker start and after watching that on the second day I focused on my starts and I was able to be quicker there which led to me doing better.”
According to Jan Wengelin, head coach of the Smithers Ski and Snowboard Club, Olieman’s ability to learn quickly has helped him become one of the best in the sport in his age category.
“He’s a very coachable athlete. He’s a quick learner and a bit of a perfectionist when he tries things,” said Wengelin.
“He doesn’t have a ton of ski cross experience and didn’t start alpine skiing with gates until seven or eight years ago. It’s quite amazing that he’s been able to do that so well . . . He’s probably one of the top five in the province in his age category.”
Oliemans has found success at other races as well.
Last year, he finished first in both days in his category at a race in Prince George.
It was only within the past few years when Wengelin brought a ski cross course to Hudson Bay Mountain that Oliemans made the switch.
“It gave us the chance to race ski cross and host local races. It’s really hard to race ski cross if you don’t have a course on your home hill,” said Oliemans.
“It’s one of those sports where I find it’s super exciting because you get to the start gate and anything can happen.
“You have to go out there and give it your all. As well, when you get to the bottom you automatically know how you did and also how you did compared to your competitors.”
His love and devotion to ski cross is clear and he is even considering staying behind for an extra year to see how the sport progresses in the region.
“Right now, there isn’t a B.C. ski cross team, but they might get one started in Prince George and I might go and be a part of that,” he said.
Next, Oliemans will get set to race against some stiff competition at nationals this month.
With a podium finish on his mind, Oliemans said he’ll have a big advantage over his competitors.
“I’m going to be heading down to a second western series ski cross series on the same course where nationals will be,” he said.
“I’ll have two or three days to ski the same course so when I come down for nationals, I’m already comfortable with the course instead of seeing it for the first time.”
Nationals are in Prince George from March 17-19.
But it was only recently that the teenager made the transition from alpine racing to ski cross.