She’s only been cross-country skiing for two months, but her new boots are now signed by an Olympic gold medalist and as far as Brianna Schultz is concerned, she’s hooked.
The first year University of Alberta, Augustana student was one of nearly 80 skiers from around the province in Camrose Dec. 29 and 30 for a cross-country ski camp, highlighted with sessions coached by Canadian two-time Olympic gold medalist Beckie Scott.
Schultz said she is a cross-country runner and was recruited for the ski team this year by Augustana Vikings’ ski coach Les Parsons and when the opportunity of the camp came up she jumped at it.
“It is really cool to see so many people out at different ages and levels, especially for me just learning. I feel I can fit in and not feel too slow,” said Schultz, who laughed at how excited she was when Scott signed her new ski boots – a recent Christmas present for the young Augustana athlete.
“It is pretty cool to show the community of it, someone who has won an Olympic gold medal will come back and help people who are just learning how to ski.”
Scott said she often gets involved coaching at such camps and enjoys passing on what she has learned back to the sport of skiing and its athletes.
“I typically work with the younger skiers… The idea being that if they have an interest in racing, I can give them some tips and helpful advice to encourage them and ensure that they continue down that path,” said Scott, who was humble about the idea of being a skiing role model.
“We have a lot of great examples on our Canadian national team now with the cross country skiers who have been very successful and we have a lot of great examples and role models they can look to.”
Scott was once coached by Parsons who now lends his coaching services to the Augustana Vikings. Scott said the Vikings have a great, enthusiastic and energetic coach.
“They have a great coach… A very positive guy who has a tonne of energy and a great spirit,” said Scott.
Parsons was pleased Scott was able to share her expertise at the camp.
“Beckie is a great role model. She is one of these people who has been putting herself back into the sport since she retired about seven years ago, so she is a great inspiration,” said Parsons.
“I have coached her since she was 12 years old, so it has been 20-some years and she just continues to be an inspiration for everybody.”
As for the health of skiing in Camrose, Parsons said attracting skiers from all over the province proves Camrose is a Mecca for skiing.
“We are so fortunate to have the pioneers here. Last year was the 100th anniversary of the Camrose cross country ski club… It is a well recognized club across Canada,” he said.
“The pioneers have developed one of the best trail networks in Canada and it has been developed by many volunteers since then. We have 20 kilometers of world class trail, everything from a beginner trail right through to national class ski trails.”
There is a lot to learn when it comes to cross-country skiing and the coaches certainly put the athletes through their paces. Schultz said the sport is quite a bit different than running.
“It is a whole different aerobic activity. It makes me feel really out of shape, when I thought I was in shape,” said Schultz.
“It is a challenge but really fun to learn.”