At first, Daniel Schulz hated skiing.
It was simply too cold and the learning area at Kicking Horse didn’t have a magic carpet at the time, forcing the young Daniel to walk up and down the snowy slope after each, short run.
“That was too much walking for me,” he grinned.
“My parents had to pressure me to go skiing…after that year I started to like it more.”
It’s safe to say that Daniel, who is going on 14, eventually learned to love skiing. Especially big mountain freestyle competitions, which he has participated in over the last three years.
Originally a racer with GKHAT, Daniel discovered several years ago that free skiing was more his style and moved on to the Golden Alpine Rippers.
“As the name says, you’ve got more freedom and it’s more challenging,” he said of free skiing.
While he admits he isn’t fearless, it’s clear that Daniel has plenty of courage as he flies off cliffs and jumps during competitions.
“I’m still scared of some things but you’ve gotta get over your fear…It’s pretty fun when you actually get over a fear,” he said.
Two of his competitions took place at his home hill over the past couple of weeks, with Daniel taking 5th at the nationals from Feb. 20-22 and 9th at the Jeep Junior Free Ski Series on Feb. 27-28.
The nationals were originally scheduled to take place in Fernie but had to be moved to Kicking Horse because of poor conditions. Daniel used the home snow to his advantage while finishing just outside the podium.
And it would be neglectful to forget about the influence of Daniel’s big brother Yannick, who helped him pick out lines for last weekend’s competition.
“The only reason I got such a good line down was because my brother showed me it. He mentors me through my competitions most of the time,” Daniel said.
It wasn’t always smooth sailing for him within the confines of competition, but Daniel quickly learned how to pick himself back up after a fall.
“My first year I fell right away and it wasn’t too nice, but I decided to keep on going which I do not regret at all,” he recalled.
Daniel’s mom Janett is similarly appreciative of what free skiing has meant for her son.
“I think it’s a good thing…learning how to [deal with] stress and nervousness and just competing,” she said.
After those successful results at Kicking Horse, Daniel had another fine showing at Lake Louise this past weekend, qualifying for the finals and finishing 12th out of 36 competitors for his age group.