Nathan Romanin roamed all the way to Thunder Bay with his Whistler Mountain Ski Club teammates.
Once there, on the strength of two podium appearances, he emerged as the top U16 skier in the country during the Canadian National Ski Championships at Loch Lomond Ski Area. Alberta's Cassidy Grey earned the title on the women's side.
With the 25th annual Whistler Cup top of mind, Romanin said the great result is a major reinforcement heading into the international festival.
"Being the overall national champion is really great. I feel I can be my best here at Whistler Cup for my country. It's definitely a confidence booster," he said.
Romanin's biggest performance came on Feb. 22, when he dominated his way to victory in the alpine combined, besting his competition by 0.85 seconds.
"I knew that (alpine combined) was one of these events that I could really do well in because I'm really good at both of those events. I just had to put the two together and if I put down two solid runs, I could make something happen," he said.
With alpine combined consisting of one super-G run and one slalom run, it provides a unique set of challenges compared to the other races on offer. However, Romanin overcame them and used a whole heap of equipment to secure the win.
"I had four skis and two helmets and two pairs of poles — two totally different sets of equipment," he said. "You've definitely got to know how to switch over from a bigger ski to a smaller ski very quickly because they're definitely very different.
"Super-G, it's a lot faster but the skiing is a lot more slow-tempo whereas in slalom, you've got to be quick and ready to hit what's coming at you. There's definitely a change of mindset, for sure."
Elsewhere, Romanin took another medal on Feb. 23 with a second-place finish in the giant slalom while also earning a seventh-place finish in the super-G on Feb. 21.
On the women's side, Maja Woolley was the top WMSC finisher with a pair of top-10 placements. Woolley was sixth in the alpine combined and in the giant slalom — the latter of which provided her most memorable moments.
"In the GS, I was really impressed with how I did because I came 17th in the first run and in the second run, I came down in third and I ended up sixth. I was really happy with that," she said. "I really had nothing to lose. I didn't want to come 17th. I wasn't happy with that result, so I just thought to go for it and it worked."
All told, Woolley was fairly happy with how she performed, especially with little knowledge of what to anticipate heading in.
"I had no clue how I would do," she said.
She noted there were some challenges at the northwestern Ontario venue, which isn't necessarily on the map as a major Canadian ski hill. However, after some early hiccups, she was pleased with how the events ultimately came off.
"The snow really wasn't great the first couple of days, but then they pulled it together. It wasn't the best venue for a national race, but they did pull it off," she said.
Romanin, meanwhile, was impressed with the site considering its relatively small stature.
"Thunder Bay and Loch Lomond did a very good job of pulling off the event with what they had. It's definitely a super-small hill," he said.
Complete results are available at www.live-timing.com.