One tough weekend narrowly cost Pemberton cross-country skier Joe Davies a chance at the FIS Junior World Ski Championships this past winter.
As he gets set to make another charge for the 2021 event—pandemic pending, of course—he'll have some extra support behind him.
Davies was one of eight young athletes named to Nordiq Canada's junior development squad on May 1.
Nordiq Canada CEO Shane Pearsall was excited about the octet of athletes on the junior development team.
"This is a young group of athletes who we are focused on developing through to the 2026 Olympics," he said in a release.
Davies, who spent last season based in Canmore, Alta., spent the campaign competing on both the NorAm Cup and U.S. Super Tour circuits, earning two top-20 finishes in the former and four in the latter. He was named as an alternate to Team Canada's FIS Junior World Ski Championships team, but did not compete.
At the World Junior trials in Quebec in December, though, Davies suffered what he felt was his worst weekend of the season. While disappointed to not qualify this year, he's taking the view that even though he wasn't at his best, he nearly made it anyway.
"It was kind of unlucky that weekend. The start of my season was the best I ever had, and the one-off, not-quite-as-good weekend that I had was the trials weekend," he said. "It was good to know that even on a bad weekend, I was still in the mix.
"This year, I'll be going into it knowing that as long as I'm having a good weekend, it shouldn't be too stressful."
Being part of the national program, Davies will receive additional funding and will have more training and coaching opportunities. While he hasn't yet made a lot of contact with his new coaches, he's staying prepared for whatever may come when they're eventually all able to meet.
"It feels really good. It feels like all the hard work is finally paying off," he said. "We're taking things as they come right now with all the social-distancing measures that are in place ... because we can't really have any training camps at the moment.
"We're still training hard and adapting our training currently."
The 19-year-old said that he lives close to Canmore's local Nordic centre and he was able to continue training there until a lack of grooming made it too challenging.
"It's been pretty much business as usual for me," he said. "I'm still able to run and bike and everything else, just not with a group like we normally would.
"We have a climbing room in our basement, so I've been able to get a little climbing in, even though it's been a little cold outside."
Davies enters this summer season with the feeling that increased training in the 2019 offseason was a significant boost to his skiing over the winter.
"I did a couple more camps. I just really put in more hours over the summer, and that really paid off come winter," he said.
In his first winter in Alberta, Davies adjusted to life away from home, but said having two active and supportive roommates helped the transition.
He acknowledged the financial ramifications of COVID-19 have been stressful, but making the team and qualifying for funding comes at a welcome time.
"The funding I'll get through the team will be extremely helpful," he said.