Moguls skiing is sort of like two sports in one. There are bumps and there are jumps, and a skier has to tackle both while hurtling down a hill at high speed. Success means mastering the mounds in order to earn the air above. And that’s when the bumpy course totally changes.
“You feel like you’re in mid-air, floating,” said Mei Pond, a moguls skier from Nanaimo. “You’re like, ‘oh wow,’ you can see all around from higher, and you land and you feel so smooth.”
The 16-year-old landed a clean 360, and had the requisite style, speed and technique to place third on the podium earlier this month at the Canadian Junior Freestyle Ski Championships at Beaver Valley in Kimberly, Ont.
It’s been a busy competition schedule for Pond, who also participated at senior nationals in Camp Fortune in Gatineau, Que., and she’ll end the season with the B.C. series finale at Mt. Washington this weekend (April 1-3).
“I will be hoping to make podium and having my family up there watching me, because it’s on the Island, right? That’s where everything started,” she said.
Pond took up freestyle because she comes from a “ski family,” she said, and she did different disciplines before falling on a jump and tearing her ACL in 2014.
The following winter, a B.C. Moguls Team coach took Pond to the slopes to gauge how her rehabilitation was coming along, and saw enough to ask her on the spot to join the team. It led to Pond winning gold at junior nationals in Vernon that season, and continuing her success this past winter.
Pond, who now skis with a knee brace, said she was scared to come back to the sport after her injury, and wondered if she was strong enough.
“I definitely doubted myself a little. Is it worth the risk again?” she asked. “But I worked so hard to get back, so I was like, it’s worth it. I worked this hard and I came this far.”
She anticipates being part of Team B.C. again next winter, and this summer she’ll train on a water ramp in Whistler as she works toward “more difficult airs.” Pond had been able to do a 360 ever since she started freestyle and it gets better and cleaner all the time, but she’s interested in incorporating a cork 720.
It’s been inspiring for the teen to tour to world-class hills and ski amongst some of the sport’s very best.
“It’s pretty cool to be able to say, yeah, I skied on the same course as Mikaël Kingsbury and all these world champions,” Pond said. “It’s a cool experience.”