It was a season of firsts for one of Canada’s up-and-coming ski cross stars, who happens to hail from B.C.’s northern capital.
Prince George product Gavin Rowell has completed his 2018-19 season with Alpine Canada’s developmental team, capping off with a gold medal in Men’s North America (NorAm) Overall Ski Cross, which he earned from the Canadian Ski Cross Championships in Alberta this past weekend.
He finished second in his Saturday run (April 13) for the silver medal and sixth in the Sunday run (April 14), accumulating enough points from the competition to get him on top of the NorAm podium.
“It was such a great feeling, getting the chance to perform at this level,” said Rowell to PrinceGeorgeMatters. “Being from Prince George, it means a lot to me in that aspect as well; I get to represent a lot of people from the region. The NorAm Overall really sets me up for next season with the team and moving up to higher level races, which will mostly be in Europe, and I’m really looking forward to that for sure.”
The 19-year-old takes pride in not only representing his city and province, but his country too when it came to setting up the maple leaf on the world stage.
“Canada is a very dominating country for ski cross; we do really well and you can always tell. You don’t have a lot of time to explore and travel as much as you would like to, but you’re in these places for a purpose.”
Rowell, a graduate of Kelly Road Secondary school, also made his mark on the slopes of Austria in March after claiming the silver medal in the World Junior Ski Cross Championships on the Federation of International Skiing (FIS) circuit.
This was just his second trip to Europe in his lifetime, and in under a year for competition reasons, but was forced to drop out due to concussion reasons from a race in the United States.
Rowell explained he was fortunate enough to have a good team of doctors working with to get back up to speed and get him to that podium position.
“We have really amazing support staff that helped me along through that process,” he said. “I knew it wasn’t a super-bad injury and the expectations were really high as well because I had never raced in Europe before, so I didn’t miss too much. Luckily, there was also a couple of bad weather days while I was injured as well.”
Rowell also told PrinceGeorgeMatters the National Ski Cross team is getting smaller with a few racers retiring from the top-tier team.
While he’s unsure what his future holds, which could potentially be a spot on the National team for the 2022 Winter Olympics in China, Rowell is grateful for what he’s already experienced in this breakout year.
“I surpassed most of the goals I set myself for this season and I’m really proud of myself for that. I’ve also gained a new perspective on this sport because of the level of competition is in Europe. Racing over there is very different compared to the NorAm circuit. It’s a steep learning curve because they race more aggressively, so this was definitely a learning year for me.”
He said his off-season plans are to continue with strength and conditioning, along with cultivating partnerships and relationships so he can obtain everything he needs to compete in ski cross.