N.L.’s 1st snowboard team looks to carve out a place among competition at 2023 Canada Games
Team Newfoundland and Labrador will have its first competitors in snowboarding at the upcoming Canada Winter Games in Prince Edward Island. (Darryl Dinn/CBC)
Team Newfoundland and Labrador is sliding in with another first at the upcoming Canada Winter Games in Prince Edward Island.
The province’s contingent will have a snowboard team at the event for the first time, with the team competing in both women’s and men’s events.
“It’s really amazing to be a part of history and represent Labrador West for it,” snowboarder Owen Lapshinoff told CBC News in a recent interview while taking a break from the slopes at Smokey Mountain Ski Lodge in Labrador City took.
The riders are busy training on hills across the province — when there is snow. Other times, they use Zoom to discuss progress and prepare for the historic event ahead, while also hitting the gym and yoga studios to stay in shape.
Lapshinoff is no stranger to the intensity of the competition.
He comes from a family whose second home is essentially the ski hill.
“I started snowboarding when I was about eight, and I was around snow sports and skiing when I was about three,” he said.
“It’s been a long time … I was always encouraged to keep racing, to keep competing as much as I can. It was when I was 14 that I started to realize, ‘I’m pretty OK with this, ‘ and that’s when I started racing nationally and traveling more for competitions.”
Snowboarders representing Team NL prepare for the 2023 Canada Winter Games. (Darryl Dinn/CBC)
Caroline Swan, chairperson of the Newfoundland and Labrador Snowboard Association, said the event has been a long time coming for snowboarders in the province.
“It’s been a multi-year process in terms of building the sport in Newfoundland and Labrador. We’ve actually partnered with a national body, which is Canada Snowboard, and all the local resorts,” Swan said.
“We formed the Newfoundland and Labrador Snowboard Association a few years back and we got officially recognized by the province a few years ago.”
The association immediately began looking for local talent to identify who has the chops to compete at the national event.
Swan said it takes a long time and a lot of dedication for the athletes to develop into strong competitors.
Some who are still too young to compete have already shown that commitment and strong skills. They were given the opportunity to travel with the team to PEI simply for the experience.
Elizabeth Lavoie (12) is one of them – she has been on a council since she was two years old.
“I’m happy and I’m super proud to represent Smokey Mountain,” said Lavoie.
Newfoundland and Labrador is sending 164 athletes in various events during the two-week national competition. The games kick off on February 18.
Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador