Being told you're getting the chance to represent your country among the best in the world is a wonderful experience.
But there can admittedly be some logistical challenges if you're told that you're leaving in a week.
That's the situation facing local freeride skier Luke Lister, who was an alternate choice to attend the Freeride World Junior Championships in Andorra on Feb. 5. Late last week, he received word that after one competitor sustained an injury, he'd be called into action.
"I was over the moon. I had no idea that in a week, I'd be leaving on a plane. I was struck," he said. "One of my teammates, who is going, told me that the other competitor had injured his knee and I was next in line and I should maybe expect an email."
Lister, who launched a MakeAChamp campaign looking to raise $3,500 earlier this week, explained it's been a bit of a whirlwind trying to get ready, but he's appreciated all of the support he's received thus far.
"It's been tough but I've had so much support from my team and my coaches and my friends and family and everything, it's been really overwhelming to have everybody contribute so much towards me and making sure this happens for me," he said.
One of his benefactors is former Whistler resident Rob Darnbrough, who now lives in Rossland. To show support for Lister, Darnbrough covered his airfare using points and paying the roughly $700 in taxes and fees.
"I used to live in Whistler and I still have a space in my heart for the community there," he said.
Darnbrough, who helped lead a campaign to crowdfund a new campus for Coast Mountain Academy in 2014, is also helping Lister with his appeal by connecting him with his company's marketing head and asking around for merchandise to give contributors.
"I have an interest in crowd-sourcing and crowdfunding and I wanted to share my expertise to help him get there," he said. "He works all year to pay for his skiing and he's started to do quite well, obviously.
"He's a hard-working kid."
In addition to skiing at a high level, Lister is also hoping to pursue a career in engineering at the University of British Columbia.
"It's been difficult to maintain my grades and also compete. I've been missing school and spending time and working on skiing, so it's difficult, but it's manageable," he said. "I have help from my teachers as well. They're very supportive and work to make sure it's easy for me."
One of the biggest challenges Lister will face at the world juniors is the different rules for European freeriding, as athletes are not allowed to pre-ride the course. While he has some experience doing visual inspection, it'll still be quite a different competition for him without putting ski to snow on the course beforehand.
"While we're doing our inspections for the other competitions, we're with our coaches and they go through it with us while we're looking at it as well. We've had some opportunity in Whistler as well to do some visual inspection practice," he said. "It should be interesting to see how that all goes down."
Lister said he's excited to go not only with longtime friend Cooper Bathgate and fellow Whistlerite Rhegan Williamson, but with some newer friends from Nelson who will also sport the maple leaf.
"It means everything to represent Canada in the sport I love," he said. "We've been skiing our entire lives and it's nice to see us go somewhere."
To donate to Lister's campaign, visit www.makeachamp.com/lukelister.
Lister is coming off a second-place showing in the Canadian Open Freeride Championships at Red Mountain over the weekend, finishing just ahead of Bengie McMaster in the men's 15 to 18 division.
In the women's 15 to 18, Olivia McNeill spearheaded a sweep, edging out Aoife Gannon and Rhegan Williamson.
In the men's 12 to 14 division, Marcus Goguen was second, just ahead of Wei Tien Ho.
As for the men's seven to 11 division, Dane Jewett took the win while Sofia Guy and Drea Dimma were the top two on the women's side.
Full results are available on the Whistler Freeride Club Facebook page.