Haliburton County cottager and Sir’s Sam’s Ski and Bike fixture Reece Ralph has been ripping it up on the North American Cup ski cross circuit. Editor Lisa Gervais caught up with him for The Interview:
Q: Tell me a little bit about your background and where you got your start in the sport. A: My family and I live in Oakville. We have been cottagers in the [Haliburton County] area for 11 years, spending all of our summers at the cottage throughout my formative years and spending every weekend skiing at Sir Sam’s since I was eight. As of now, I am living and training with my team (Alberta Ski Cross) in Calgary. Later this month, we will move to Canmore for the Canada Ski Cross Talent ID camp during the first two weeks of May.
Q: So, you learned to ski at Sir Sam’s?
A: I originally started to ski at a very small ski area called Glen Eden when I was very little, probably around four or five years old. Once we got the cottage and began skiing at Sir Sam’s, that is when I really learned how to ski with the awesome instructors from the Sir Sam’s ski school and coaching staff of Fenninger Racing. Because of the amazing support I have received from the Bishop family, and the impact Sir Sam’s has had on me over the years, I proudly wear the Sir Sam’s logo on my suit to bring a little bit of home wherever I go.
Q: How did the local races set you up for the recent successes?
A: As a kid, racing in the Sir Sam’s challenge every Sunday taught me a lot about how to win and more importantly how to lose. Once I started racing ski cross on the Ontario Cup Circuit, it was a really big culture shock because I was the youngest racer on the circuit for a while and always had to race against older athletes because I was the only athlete in my category. In hindsight, it really prepared me to race in the professional circuits such as the North American Cup because I wasn’t only racing against older, more experienced athletes but would also be thrown into a heat with Olympians, such as legends and Olympic medalists such as Chris Delbosco, Brady Leman and Kevin Drury.
Q: Tell me about the latest wins and how you feel about them.A: So far, my season has been a personal best for results in the North American Cup and my best overall finish in the circuit. I have had five top 10 finishes and finished 10th overall on the circuit. My most recent success of being named U19 Canadian national champion has been a huge personal goal of mine.
Q: Tell me about the day you won the Canadian Jr. Ski Cross Championship and finished 8th in the Canadian Ski Cross Championships at Banff Sunshine Resort.A: It was a really exhausting day mentally for me because I had two game plans in the back of my mind to think about. If everything went to plan, and I made it into the top eight overall, I had the title in the bag and wouldn’t need to race in the consolation heats. For me to do this, I needed to really fight and go head-to-head with members in my team who have been beating me all season and duke it out with members of the national team as well as Olympians. My first plan was to make it into the semi-finals which paid off thankfully and I didn’t have to resort to my backup plan of pounding back an energy drink and hoping I had enough energy to advance through to the finals and win that heat.
You can follow Reece on Instagram. His tag is @reece_ralph.