As the winners of the RIDE ON Provincial Series slopestyle event at Mt. Seymour were announced last weekend, Whistler Valley Snowboard Club's (WVSC) Neko Reimer wasn't expecting his name to be called for first place.
"I thought I might maybe get third overall. They called third and it wasn't me, so I was like, 'it probably won't be me in any of the other spots," he recalled.
But the 11-year-old Rossland, B.C. native was in for a surprise: He earned first overall on both days of the weekend-long competition, which took place Feb. 17 and 18.
Now in his first season spent training with WVSC, Reimer credits his success over the weekend to feeling comfortable with the runs he put down. "I've been working on a lot of the tricks I already do, but just making them better," he said.
On Saturday, he was followed on the podium by clubmate Noah Eccles in second, while WVSC's Zakk Harman came fourth, and Brendan Keuling fifth. On Sunday, Reimer's overall win made him one of seven WVSC athletes to place in the day's top 12, with Eccles staying on the podium in third and Truth Smith landing in fourth. Lane Weaver, Harman, Keuling and Dashiell Klebe-McCulloch also ranked well, finishing seventh, 10th, 11th and 12th, respectively.
Reimer's winning weekend was doubly impressive when you consider the age range of his competitors, who were, in some cases, six to eight years older than him.
"A lot of these guys are my friends... just to be on the podium with them is pretty insane," he said.
The WVSC girls also represented the club well over the weekend, with Juliette Pelchat and Maggie Crompton on Saturday's podium, in second and third place, respectively. The following day, Pelchat took third, Crompton fourth, and Irie Smith fifth in the women's overall.
While their teammates were ripping up Mt. Seymour's terrain park, other WVSC athletes were competing at the Air Nation freestyle tour national slopestyle event in Mont-Temblant, Que.
On Wednesday, Feb. 14, Finn Finestone landed in eighth place after finals, while Jadyn Chomlack rounded out the top 10. Adrian Tongko finished 14th overall. The following day, Chomlack moved up to fourth, while Tongko finished 12th and Finestone 16th.
"I was stoked to make the final after putting down two clean runs in qualifying. My easier 'safety run' scored higher than my harder run because it was cleaner which got me into finals," Finestone explained. "In the final I landed both again but the less technical safety run still ended up being the best."
Challenging conditions made landing his runs all the more satisfying, Finestone added.
"It's hard to put down a clean run when I'm struggling to make it over the jumps. The wind was blowing hard up the course and I would get stalled in the air."
For full results, go to www.bcsnowboard.com/results-2018 and www.canadasnowboard.ca/en/events/freestyletour/tremblant/results.