Young Yannik Shulz got his start learning how to ski at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, and now the 16-year-old has earned his best finish yet, 6th place at the North American Junior Freeski Championships in Whistler.
“I was feeling really good going into it, but my goal was just to break the top 10,” said the Golden Secondary School student.
Shulz gained his initial skills, and his love for big mountain skiing, at Kicking Horse with GNAR (Golden Alpine Rippers). His talent was clear from a young age, and he started training with the Rocky Mountain Freeriders out of Lake Louise.
“Learning here says a lot about my skiing style,” said Shulz. “The terrain is ideal to practice and to learn big mountain skiing.”
He started competing when he was in the 12-14 age category, and is happy to say that he has had his best year yet in 2016 with multiple second and third place finishes.
“This is my first year for having a bunch of good results,” he said.
A true competitor, however, his eyes are on the future. He plans to keep competing in the juniors until he’s 18, before moving onto larger qualifying competitions. His goal is to qualify for the World Tour, hopefully for the 2019 season.
But in the meantime Shulz still has a full plate.
“It’s definitely nice having a hill so close, but it’s still hard because I miss weeks at a time at school. Staying on top of all the subjects is hard, so if you want to do well in school you have to put in a lot of effort. That’s actually why I’m able to travel to all these places because I’m putting the effort in,” he said.
And with aspirations of a career in aviation, maintaining a strong GPA is important.
“I’d like to do search and rescue, something along those lines,” he said. “There’s such a strong SAR community here, it would be great to be a part of it.”
Before that happens, he has a long skiing career ahead of him. But like any young athlete, he didn’t get there all by himself.
“I’ve had some really great support. Higher Ground has been great to me…so have my RMF coaches (Drew Wittstock, Lane Clark, and Keegan Capel).”