For Elise Dube, nothing beats fresh powder on the mountain.
“I just love the freedom of snowboarding. It’s so liberating and not to mention fun, and I like going super fast,” said Dube.
For the past four years, the 16-year-old has travelled from Burns Lake to Smithers to train with the Smithers Ski and Snowboard Club on Hudson Bay Mountain.
But now, Dube will have the chance to carve out the slopes on an international stage.
The Lakes District Secondary School student was the only athlete west of Prince George to make the team this season.
“I didn’t know it was a tryout until the end of the day,” admitted Dube. “I got an email back from that, that said I was on the team.”
It was Jan Wengelin, head coach of the Smithers Ski and Snowboard Club, that encouraged her to tryout for the team.
“I felt like she has the skill to move on somewhere else because it’s hard living in the north and getting that exposure,” said Wengelin. “She is a very skilled rider and she has a really good race head on her when it comes to competitions. She closes out what other people do and she sticks to the task at hand. She’s learning what it means to compete.”
Dube has been making the trip to Whistler for dryland training since June and at the end of the summer, travelled to Chile for two and a half weeks for on-snow training and two races where she finished fourth and sixth.
In November, the team is also heading to Austria for three weeks of training and competing on the slopes.
But Dube hasn’t always wanted to compete at the provincial level.
“It just basically fell into my lap,” she said.
Dube began skiing when she was just two years old. Her parents, both avid skiers and snowboarders who also coach with the high school team, taught her how to ski.
It wasn’t until she was 10 years old that she made the switch to snowboarding.
“For me, [snowboarding] has always been more fun and also, when I was younger, my feet got cold easily and ski boots were awful so snowboard boots were ideal,” she said. “I just realized I loved it and switched over.
Chris Nakonechny, head coach of the provincial team, said Dube has a lot of potential.
“She had some good results down [in Chile], definitely good results for her first races. It’s good to see her down there and racing in those events,” said Nakonechny “It’s a good step into the season when she gets into the North American races.”
He noted that Dube’s location could pose a challenge for the young athlete.
“She’s pretty far up north and a lot of the events and training camps are in Vancouver or the Whistler area,” said Nakonechny. “There is a lot more travel for her whereas we have some kids who live in Vancouver or Kelowna, it might be a bit of of a journey for someone like Elise.”
But Dube isn’t worried.
“I’ve always loved experiencing new places and new cultures, it’s been fun,” she said. “I’m so happy I got this experience.”
The team’s first race is in January.