By: Austin Stanton
The Canadian NextGen Slopestyle team gives Canada’s young stars the opportunity to hone their craft alongside the country’s top athletes and start their World Cup career. Ontario’s Megan Oldham earned a spot on the squad for this winter, after an impressive 2017-18 season.
While Megan enters 2018-19 as one of Canada’s most promising female skiers, she’s still new to the sport. She only started skiing competitively in 2016, after watching her brother, Bruce, fall in love with the sport.
“When Bruce was with agenda freeski he convinced me to come out for a day,” said Megan. “I spent a day skiing with Julia Hood, Chloe Stormgaard, and their coach, Sian (Llewellyn) and it was the absolute best thing ever. So, the year after that I signed up.”
She began her competitive slopestyle career on agenda’s development team in 2016-17.
In her first skiing competitively, Megan was the 2017 Timber Tour Overall Champion and progressed enough by the end of the season to compete at the Stoneham Canada Cup in March, where she finished third in slopestyle at her first ever national level event.
Geoff Lovelace, Megan’s coach with agenda, said her work ethic, and trampoline background allowed her to progress so quickly.
“As soon as you showed her how to do something, she didn’t have a way in her mind that she thought she had to do it,” said Lovelace. “She just did it the correct way.”
For 2017-18, Megan moved up to agenda’s high-performance team. While she was the only girl on the team, that didn’t impact her training for a second.
“She skis well with anybody,” noted Lovelace. “It doesn’t matter guys, or girls, or ages. She just sticks to her own lane, and whatever you ask her to do, she does that.”
Her rapid progression, and expanding repertoire of tricks, made Megan a force to be reckoned with on the Canada Cup and NorAm tours in 2018.
She finished second in the year-long Slopestyle Canada Cup Grand Prix and won the first NorAm she ever competed in at the Calgary Slopestyle event.
“At the Nor-Am there were two skiers from NextGen and some girls from the U.S. team. It was crazy,” said Megan. “I’d never competed against them before, but it was cool to feed off their energy and the way the ride. I fell on my first run, and then my second run I was so nervous, I just wanted to get one run down, and I did, and it was awesome.”
The win, and a third-place finish at the Le Relais Nor-Am earned Megan a fourth-place finish in the year-long NorAm Cup.
After the season, NextGen came calling. Freestyle Canada NextGen Program Director, Julie Stegall, said Megan’s intangibles, and results, made it easy to invite her to the team for 2018-19.
She’s the epitome of what we look for in an athlete,” said Stegall. “Somebody like Megan who is athletically inclined, has the work ethic, and the mental attitude, there’s no stopping her at all.”
In terms of on-snow skills, are two things set Megan apart. The first is her rails. In her winning run at the Calgary NorAm she earned a 90 from the rail judges. The next closest rail score was a 71.
“In practice I was at the top and Megan went down and did her three rail tricks, but I couldn’t see them,” said Lovelace. “Three coaches came up and asked, ‘is she doing those tricks in her run?’ I said ‘yeah, that’s what she’s practicing’ and they’re like ‘she’s won before she’s even got to the jumps.”
In addition to her strong rail game, Megan’s fundamental skill progressions set her apart. It was obvious in Freestyle Canada’s assessment of her that she had the basics down to a science.
“She’s not going hit a glass ceiling like a lot of younger athletes do because they haven’t put in the time and dedication to the fundamental progressions,” said Stegall.
This season Megan’s training will focus on continued progress with her nutrition, and weight training; and taking a more scientific approach to her physiological and biomechanical development.
On-snow Megan will be competing in World Cup’s for the first time, a challenge she’s looking forward to.
“I’m looking forward to testing out a lot bigger courses. Going from Canada Cups and Nor-Am jumps to World Cup jumps is a world of the difference,” commented Megan. “Even the training I’ve been doing so far is getting the same tricks I have on smaller jumps into a good groove on big courses.”