Ontario Games bronze for Eagle Lake skier
By Darren Lum
Published March 27, 2018
Teenage ski cross phenom Reece Ralph shone at the Ontario Winter Games in early March.
The Fenninger Racing Team member, based at Sir Sam’s Ski and Ride in Eagle Lake won a bronze medal. To get to the “Big Final,” he won all three of his heats at the games venue of Craigleith Ski Club.
Ralph attributed his bronze medal to a strong season of pre-games results and other essential factors.
“I was in the zone all day, had a good dinner the night before and a good sleep. I had been skiing well this season and getting good results in the North American cup and just went out to the Winter Games to have fun!” he wrote in an email.
Although the 18-year-old learned how to ski at Glen Eden in Milton, his racing started at Sir Sam’s.
Back in 2014, Sir Sam’s hosted a ski cross race with the arrival of the Snowboard Ontario SBX event.
Ralph knew he had to try the unique discipline where up to four competitors race head-to-head, negotiating a course that includes large jumps, high banked turns and the occasional collision.
“I begged my parents to enter me into it and was hooked immediately and never looked back since. I guess thats when I ran off to the circus!” he wrote.
The Eagle Lake teen has been a cottager in the county for the past 10 years, spending nine of those winters here.
Ralph said Sir Sam’s and the Victoria Fenninger coached Fenninger Racing Team provided him the variety to grow as a competitive skier.
“Skiing at Sir Sam’s has influenced my skiing by giving me the opportunity to ski everything from Racing to Park and even skiing in the trees. My years training with Fenninger Racing have taught me how to ski fast and gain speed everywhere. The coaching staff there has constantly been pushing me to never stop improving my skills and style to adapt to new features and techniques,” he wrote.
Ski cross is an unpredictable sport that satisfies Reece’s need for speed.
“It is fast paced, action packed high speed fun! It is anybody’s race until you reach the finish line. It’s also a really cool vibe at the top of the course, chair ride up because all the athletes are hanging out and talking until your heat is called. The amount of new friends I have made since I started this course is awesome! Everyone you talk to is super enthusiastic and genuine,” he wrote.
The Grade 12 student at Iroquois Ridge High School in Oakville said the ideal person for ski cross needs to have strong skiing skills, be fit and think on their feet.
“Being able to make split second decisions that could determine wether you win or end up in the safety net is crucial to have as a Ski Cross athlete if you want to win. Having a strong body is also necessary to make it down to the bottom and to be durable enough to take some hard impacts and crashes. One thing that sets us apart from other ski racers is that you also have to have the guts to jump further, go faster take the line and pass in some crazy situations,” he wrote
Ski cross is very popular in this country.
Success on the world level is obvious, as the Canadians earned a pair of golds and a silver at the Winter Games held in PyeongChang, Korea several weeks ago.
He said the ultimate goal is to make the Canadian ski cross team. He understands “it is a very long road.”
“My goal is to represent Canada at the 2026 Olympic games, but I have a lot to improve in and a lot to accomplish in the next nine years. I feel that the next generation of Canadian Ski Cross athletes in the sport are going to be a tough act to follow but I have it in me to make it there but with the continued progression of the sport it is going to make our nation as a whole a force in the sport. I am very excited to prove to the country and the world that I can make it!” he wrote.