Big Air. As far as sports go, you are unlikely to find a better named event.
Athletes hurtle off a ramp and soar high above the ground, contorting their bodies in unlikely patterns with rare agility and grace.
It was Big Air that supplied the big moment for young Ladysmith freestyle skier Sarah Rocque this winter.
In a season disrupted by poor snow conditions, the 13-year-old Grade 8 student topped all B.C. freestyle skiers in her age group by sailing to a first-place finish in February’s Timber Tour event in Whistler.
It was the highlight of an excellent freestyle season that saw Rocque ski to top-four finishes in three different disciplines. With the season wrapping up last weekend at Silver Star, she is now awaiting word on whether she has qualified to participate in junior nationals.
Rocque has been skiing since she before turned three. If there is any place in the world she’d rather be than a ski hill, it’s soaring through the air with her skis on.
“It’s awesome. I love the adrenaline,” she said. “ I don’t do anything super insane. Well, some people might think it’s insane.”
Rocque skied three disciplines this year, including the aforementioned aerials. The other two are moguls (where you race down a speedbump-riddled slope as quickly as possible while launching yourself off a few jumps on the way down), and slopestyle (where you perform skateboard-style tricks in a skateboard-style park, on skis).
She finished fourth at Whistler and sixth at Silver Star and Apex in moguls, and had a third and two fourths in slopestyle. At this point, she has yet to pick a favourite.
Rocque, who attends Nanaimo District Secondary School, practices two days a week on the slopes at Mount Washington and a few more doing dryland work at Pacific Sport in Nanaimo and some gymnastics training. In the summer, it’s off to camps in Whistler, including training off a water ramp.
She also did a fair amount of snow training in Whistler this year due to the lack of snow on Mount Washington.
Obviously skiing is a big commitment, not only for Rocque, but for her dad Patrick, mom Amber and sister Sabine as well. But he says it’s one they are happy to embrace because they are, and always have been, a skiing family.
Short term, her goal is to continue to improve under the tutelage of coaches Ian McFadgen, Peter Stubbs and Tanya Colin.
Long-term, she’s not afraid to think big.
“I’d like to make the B.C. national team and maybe go to the Olympics one day.”
She expects word on whether she has been picked for Team BC as early as this week.