Where Are The Girls: Freestyle Ontario Forms Females In Freestyle Committee

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By: Victoria Klassen

DURING THE 2016-2017 SKI SEASON, only 18 per cent of Freestyle Ontario’s athletes were female. In response to this issue, Freestyle Ontario has appointed a Females in Freestyle Committee who will be responsible for increasing women and girls participation in the sport.

The committee is chaired by Lora Fenn, Freestyle Ontario’s Water Ramp and Club Development Manager. The committee will follow Freestyle Ontario’s Women  and Girls Participation Plan, which takes a strategic approach to attracting and retaining women and girls within our sport. The plan includes creating a three-part GIRLZ training camp series for female halfpipe, slopestyle, and mogul skiers, which will include a girls’ water ramp camp, an acrobatic camp, and an on-snow camp.

“We’ve done female events before, and they’re always really successful,” Fenn explained. “But we want to do it so they lead into each other, so athletes know when to come to the next one. And they’ll know they will see these girls at the Timber Tours, so you’ll want to go to that. We also want to engage some more senior athletes—like a mentorship program as well.”

Nikki Blackall, former Ontario Park and Pipe Team member, and currently National NextGen Slopestyle Team athlete, was happy to hear about these initiatives.

“When girls come together to  ski, a lot of great things can happen,” said Nikki. “It’s the right environment—it’s fun and it’s positive. I think girls also feed off of each other when someone is skiing well. It’s pretty cool and neat that Ontario is providing girls with something like that.”

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The Women and Girls plan includes engaging female champions, and female leaders with the FUNdamentals (approximately ages 6-8+) and Learn to Train (approximately ages 6-11+) level of Freestyle Canada’s Long Term Athlete Development Pathway.

Ontario Mogul Team athlete, Alexa Chick, recognizes the need for female role models at the club level.

“When I was younger, I didn’t have any female coaches, and I was often the only girl in  a  group full of  boys. I never really had a local female idol to look up to,” shared Alexa. “But if you like freestyle skiing, stick to it. If you like what you’re doing, if this becomes a  goal of  yours, you shouldn’t let being the only girl interrupt your dreams.”

Freestyle Ontario is working with Freestyle Canada to  align their goals when it comes to the Women and Girls Participation Plan. Last season there were 843 female freestyle athletes across Canada, with 2,122 male freestyle athletes.

Part of the plan involves coach training, like a Freestyle Canada Coaching Girlz Module, a female athlete feedback workshop, and a coach discussion group.

“We have a good amount of female officials, we have a good amount of female staff, we have a good amount of female coaches in Ontario,” said Fenn. “We’ve put all those in place, but that’s not the answer. We need more females in the sport. I think we’ve developed good female leadership, and we’re just missing the athletes.”

If you are interested in joining the Females in Freestyle committee, please contact Lora Fenn at lora@ freestyleontario.ski

Travis Gerrits Shares his Olympic Story and Living with Bipolar Disorder

TyGerr Images

TyGerr Images

By Victoria Klassen

Active in gymnastics, trampoline and skiing, from a young age Travis Gerrits knew he wanted to go to the Olympics. After watching Nicolas Fontaine compete in aerial skiing at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Travis realized aerial skiing was the sport that would get him there. In 2014, Travis made his Olympic debut in Sochi.

“As the years went by, the dream was becoming more and more vivid in my mind and I started setting short term and long term goals. So I could see my progression from the age of 13 to the Olympics in 2014,” said Travis.  To represent Canada at the biggest international competition there is was such an honour. It wasn’t without the local support of my community in Milton, everyone who’s helped me get to where I am today with another Games coming up in February. The seventh-place finish in Sochi definitely left me wanting more, although I was very content with my jumping and the execution of each of my tricks.”

With the 2018 Winter Olympics on the horizon, Travis is in the process of qualifying for the Games. He said he has been working on getting more amplitude in the air, allowing him to break form less, which will result in higher scores. After knee surgery, just 217 days out from the 2018 Olympics, Travis is back training and feeling good about his skiing.

“There’s a lot of work still to do, but seeing my training is going so well — I’m feeling confident about the season, and confident about my body and the mindset that I’m in,” expressed Travis.

Travis started skiing with his brother at Snow Valley, first in a racing program and then they began skiing moguls. They were not affiliated with any clubs when they competed at mogul competitions, but that didn’t stop the brothers from being noticed by Nicolas Fontaine for their skills. Travis began training on the water ramps at Lake Placid, and from there made Freestyle Canada’s National Development Team for aerials at age 14.

Skiing competitively from a young age, 26-year-old Travis has been balancing school and skiing for most of his life. He said school gives him an outlet to take his mind off of jumping.

“In high school, I missed over 50 per cent of my classes and still graduated with all of my classmates because I put the work in. I’d take the work with me and do it in the car and do it on the way to the training centre or the hill. My teachers were great, I had a great relationship with the principal and all of my teachers, and they respected my career as much as I respected the workload they gave me,” said Travis. “I now still encourage young athletes to stay in school and find that balance that allows you to keep building up a résumé. Life after skiing is just as important as skiing itself.”

Travis has also kept up with his education after high school. One of his sponsors, Visa, has paid for his education at Stanford University, where he just completed his advanced project management certificate. He is now considering another certificate or a degree in business. In the future, Travis would like to enter the business side of sport, ideally as an athlete marketing manager.

“I know from being on the other side, having great marketing managers makes the world a whole lot easier when you’re dealing with big events like the Olympic Games, World Cups, World Championships,” Travis acknowledged. “To find sponsors and support for these athletes is key and can’t be done alone. I’m lucky to have my mom as my manager and agent — she manages all of my affairs.”

Another plan Travis has for the future is to begin more public speaking about mental health. In August, Travis posted a video on Facebook that talked about his diagnosis of bi-polar disorder after the Sochi Olympics.

“For me, bringing it to the forefront has helped not only other people, but myself accept the diagnosis. To move on, creating new goals, and not letting mental health stand in the way of you and your dreams. If I can help inspire people go get help for the first time, because they know they have the struggle as well, then fantastic. It’s something I’d like to start doing more of, maybe after my career in skiing or especially after this big season, is doing some more public speaking surrounding the topic of mental health,” Travis shared.

“I believe with a bigger voice after having been to one, potentially two, Olympic Games, I have the opportunity to share my story on a bigger platform. You can definitely inspire the younger generation to get help or speak out about their own struggles. It’s been a very positive response to the video that I did post. I’m excited to work with Bell Let’s Talk and share my story on an even bigger level this coming January.”

Sixteen years after watching Nicolas Fontaine compete in the Olympics, Travis is on the path to competing in his second Olympic Games.

“Nicolas Fontaine, he was a god in the sport of aerials. He took the time out of his busy schedule, when he was training at the time, to help guide me and my brother towards a career in aerial skiing,” remembered Travis. “He was doing tricks far beyond his time. He’s still around the ski world, coaching the development program. He was an inspiring individual who pushed the limits of the sport and his own body. To follow in his footsteps, if you will, has been a great challenge and great opportunity for me to travel the world doing what I love.”

Muskoka Timber Tour Day One Recap


On day one of the Muskoka Timber Tour local Skier Ethan Murdy from the Muskoka Ski Club posted the highest score of the day with a 91.8 to take top spot in the boys U18 category. 

Murdy was followed by two NCR athletes, Liam Smith in second with an 86.2 narrowly eding out his teammate Jack Cluett who finished third with an 86.2

Elyssa Wilmott from Agenda Freeski was the top female skier on the day. She posted an 82.0 to win the U14 girls division. She was followed by Georgian Peaks Skier Mackenzie Beckett with a score of 57.4

The U16 Boys was won by Kyle Mattice from Agenda Freeski with a score of 84.8. Agenda completed the podium sweep with Tyler Koch (62.6) and Harry Leeman (55.0). 

Another Agenda skier, Ryan Clarke took home first place in the U14 category with a score of 71.2. He was followed by Sterik's Joey Pellegrini (68.8) and Scott Breedon from Beaver Valley (59.8). 

The U12 division champion was another Agenda skier, Thomas Mcewen who posted a 75.8. His teammate Charlie Beaty won the silver medal with a 75.3 and Trent Setterington gave Agenda another podium sweep with a score of 57.8 . 

The Timber Tour will roll on tomorrow at Hidden Valley Highlands Ski area with another slopestyle competition! 

Click here to view the full scores. 

Click here to view the run-order for tomorrow's competition. 


Muskoka Timber Tour is Underway

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It's finally here, the 2018 Timber Tour season kicks off today at the Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area in Muskoka, Ont. Training is underway  and competition starts tomorrow. 

Two separate Slopestyle competitions are taking place this weekend, one on Saturday and one on Sunday. 

There will be U12, U14, U16, and U18 competitions for boys and girls. 

For those interested in getting a relaxing massage this weekend, The Massage Lady will be onsite providing relaxing massages in the Main Lodge. 

For important event information directly to your phone, please sign up for real-time text messaging updates! 

For Coaches/Managers, text FOCO to 767638. 

For Parents, text FOP to 767638.

For Volunteers, text FOV to 767638

For Judges, text FOJ to 767638

For Sponsors and VIPS, text FOVIP to 767638.





Casting Call for Freestyle Skiers

Attention skiers, are you ready for your 15 minutes of fame and to make $2500 in one day?

Real People Casting is seeking a male skier age 20 to 55 who can do impressive tricks on flat snow or a slight incline for a national television ad for a major fast food chain .

Anyone who can execute moves like the ones seen here or other, similarly impressive tricks is encouraged to apply. You do not have to be able to do the particular maneuvers in that video, but you must be able to show them some “wow” moves!

Rate: CDN $2500 miminum (possibly more)
Auditions: Self-taped immediately, followed by in-person or Skype auditions on Tues Jan 16
Shoot Date: Mon Jan 22
Shoot Location: Toronto (travel/accommodation will be covered if you live elsewhere)

Email info@realpeoplecasting.com for an audition script, then submit a video of yourself executing a few tricks on flat snow or a slight incline at the link below. While a video is not mandatory to apply, it’ll make a huge difference.

CLICK HERE to apply.

Volunteer Photo Shoot Opportunities for Freestyle Skiers

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Tourism Barrie is looking for volunteers to participate in a photo shoot on Friday, January 26th at Horseshoe Resort and Horseshoe Heights.

Lunch will be provided and volunteers will be given free lift tickets for the rest of the day after the shoot is finished. 

Tourism Barrie will own all rights to the photos, but volunteers can request copies for their personal use. 

The photos will be used by Tourism Barrie on their website and social media accounts

Please email ktrainor@tourismbarrie.com for more information.