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Alpine skier takes Provincial cancellation in stride

March 26, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Kinjal Dagli Shah

Like many athletes looking forward to the new season, 14-year-old skier Callum Stewart Smith is disappointed with the news of race cancellations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Callum, an Aurora resident, is part of the Craigleith Ski Club and was set to compete in the Provincials, following it up with the Can Am race in Maine and the Whistler Cup.

The Alpine skier admits he is frustrated but is also taking it in his stride.

“The team and I have been working really hard to get where we are. We can’t control what happened but we can control how we react to the situation. We can take the bad news and use that to our advantage to strive to come back stronger next year,” said Smith, who attends Wellington Public School. “To prepare for next season we will just keep on doing dryland and eating healthy, keeping our eyes on the prize and getting physically and mentally stronger for next year.”

Smith first learned to ski when he was four years old, starting with recreational skiing with his dad.

“I did ski lessons at Blue Mountain and my dad found out that they had a race program, so I started racing when I was six in the under-8 division,” recalled Smith. 

His journey hasn’t always been smooth, and he worked hard to be where he is. “When I started skiing in the U8 division, I wasn’t that great. The U10 season came around and it was still just fun and games with my friends. It was during the U12 when all my friends went on the A team, chosen by the coaches depending on your skiing ability, focus to the sport and sportsmanship. My ability to ski and focus wasn’t that strong but I wanted to ski on the A team.”

Smith then turned to his dad for support, who advised him to improve his skiing by eating healthier and getting more training. Smith also started to watch the best skiers in his division to learn to focus better. The hard work paid off, and he was not only selected to the A team in his second year of the U12 season but also placed in the first top 10 of his career.

“I went to Whistler in the summer for a ski camp and when I was there, there were athletes from Quebec who would hit me in the back of the leg with their poles, and by the end of the camp the back of my leg was purple, but that didn’t stop me from skiing,” recalled Smith, who faced a similar backlash when he joined the Ontario Cup team and realised it was way harder than expected.

“I would go up the chair lift with my teammates and tell them that I would someday win a gold or go to the Olympics and the World Cup but they often pointed out that I wasn’t good enough. They beat me down verbally and I was so discouraged.”

Smith decided to use the criticism to motivate himself and it marked the real beginning of his ski career. “I went to Whistler, Mount Hood, Switzerland, Colorado, Banff before joining Craiglieth Ski Club. I used the negative comments to push myself harder. During the Mealey Cup and the super G training runs, I beat the 14-18-year-olds in all the training and racing runs, and qualified for the provincials.”

Smith follows a rigorous routine to maintain his place as a skier.

“I come home from school every day and do a workout and I train on snow Thursday through Sunday. I ski from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm and have a 45-minute lunch. Every day after skiing, I either run from one hill to the next or go for a run near my house. I also watch my diet and eat protein, carbs and veggies with every meal.”

The teenager, who also plays football, basketball and cross country, points out that the best part of skiing is having fun.

“It’s a great feeling when you’re over on your edge and have a lot of angulation.”

Smith’s ultimate goals are to compete in the World Cup and Olympics.

“I want to be the best and win a couple golds for Canada. I have to keep working hard and just think of my process; the outcome will come around.”



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