Rachel Shanner has mixed emotions about competing in her first B.C. Winter Games in Mission Feb. 20 to 23.
“I am extremely nervous, but also kind of excited,” said Shanner, 14, of the Nickel Plate Nordic Club. “I just kind of feel out of my league. I think it’s an amazing opportunity. I don’t really know what to expect.”
The Summerland Secondary School student is enjoying a good cross-country season in which she placed third in the first Okanagan Cup event in Revelstoke at the end of December and earned the same result in Okanagan Cup 2, held at the Nickel Plate Nordic Centre at Apex Mountain Feb. 1.
“I definitely improved my skiing technique a lot this year,” she said.
In Revelstoke, where she qualified for the B.C. Winter Games, Shanner said she had a good day. “I felt really good, finished strong,” she said.
Shanner’s coach, Jerome Jang, said she’s a tremendous all-around athlete (basketball, swimming) who has not specialized in any one sport.
“As one of the top juvenile girls skiers in the Okanagan zone, she will meet tough competition from the other zones,” said Jang. “I hope that she will finish in the top quarter of the pack in her events and realize that if she wants to move to the podium, that she needs to start dedicating herself to just two sports (a summer sport and cross-country skiing in the winter) as her competitors are training from four to six days a week in cross-country skiing (to her three days a week).”
Shanner enjoys the sport because it’s fun and she gets great workouts. There are other aspects she likes as well.
“It’s a really technical sport. There is a lot of stuff to learn and improve upon,” said Shanner. “I have a great group of friends that ski with me. I have an amazing coach. Jerome is so dedicated and he’s a fantastic coach.”
Jang said because she has competed against her fellow athletes, she will know what to expect as far as results. More time with her fellow athletes may be the catalyst she needs, added Jang.
“She is already one of the most improved skiers on the team in terms of improved technique,” he said.