Anytime a Whistler Mountain Ski Club competitor gets to line up in the Whistler Cup starting gate, it's a special feeling.
But when he or she gets to tackle one of the world's biggest youth skiing events as a member of Team Canada, there's an added appeal.
After placing fifth overall at U16 nationals at Ontario's Blue Mountain, Tait Jordan is set to be the next local skier to don the maple leaf when the festival returns next month.
"It means a lot. That was a goal coming into this season, so I'm pretty relieved that I had that title. It's pretty nice," he said.
At nationals, held earlier this month, Jordan had to contend with tough eastern ski conditions. He made it work on both the speed and technical sides, though, taking fourth in the alpine combined, fifth in super-G and sixth in the giant slalom.
"It was different than anything I'd skied, ever," Jordan said. "It was hard to get used to. I was pretty happy with my skiing based on the little time I had.
"It was super, super hard there. The snow was basically ice and up at Whistler, it's a lot more soft snow, or softer, than what we had there."
Though the conditions required Jordan to make some adjustments, he reacted well and skied to the best of his ability on the icier terrain.
"You have to be more on the outside ski than you have to be at Whistler here," he said. "I did my best and I'm happy with how I did."
Jordan acknowledged he was surprised with his showing during the super-G portion of the alpine combined, where he placed third in that run.
"I was attacking harder than some of the guys, and I was making sure I was on my outside ski, trying to be consistent," he said.
Jordan hopes to come into Whistler Cup on the same roll he's been on all year, as he's finally found consistency after seeking it in previous seasons. He credits his coaches and his teammates' respective progressions for helping drive him forward."I wasn't really like that in past seasons, so it's good to see that change," he said. "I've worked a bit harder this year than I did last year—not that I didn't work hard last year, but I had a little more motivation this year and it's paid off a little bit more.
"Some of my teammates are doing pretty well and I'm hoping to get there one day."
Also at nationals, Freya Jumonville was the top performer on the women's side, earning an 11th-place finish in the slalom.
"That was a really good result for me. I was really happy with it," she said. "In the first run, I came down and I had the best run that I raced this year. I messed up on a few turns, but that was a really good run. On the second run, I just tried my best to recreate what I did on the first run."
The club was also well represented at the U16 Western Canadian Championships earlier this month.
The club posted eight top-10 finishes, including three from Matthias Shorter, who was fifth in slalom, eighth in the giant slalom and ninth in the dual slalom. Single standouts came from: Graham Seltzer (fourth in giant slalom); Chase Burns (fifth in dual slalom); Adam Usher (sixth in slalom); John Nicolls (seventh in slalom) and Holly Clarke (10th in giant slalom).