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Local skier among youngest to compete at nationals this week

'I really want to see how far I go': Aspiring to compete in the Olympics one day, Soo Finnish Nordic skier Jasper Tchir is making his debut on the national stage in Gatineau

He hasn’t even graduated elementary school yet, but Jasper Tchir is already looking to test his abilities on the country’s biggest stage in cross-country skiing.

The 14-year-old Soo Finnish Nordic Club skier is racing against mostly 15-year-olds in Gatineau, Que. this week at the 96th edition of the Nordiq Canada Ski Nationals.

That same event determines which of its older competitors will make the national team, and it’s also where Canada’s Olympic team will be chosen.

While Tchir may not be old enough to earn the right to represent the country right now, he’s getting his first taste for what to expect in the years to come.

“Because I’m racing up this year, there’s a bit less pressure since I’m not competing in my own age group,” he said. “Next year, when I’m competing against people my age, fighting for medals, and fighting on a big stage to get on national teams or a spot in the Olympics, that will be even more pressure.”

It’s been a big year for Tchir as he had the opportunity to compete at the Ontario Winter Games for the first time ever this winter, earning gold and bronze medals.  

He also attended Stratton Mountain School in Vermont during the summer months, an independent boarding school that focuses on academics and competitive winter sports. The national cross-country skiing team for the U.S. even trains there.

More recently, the Grade 8 student had a successful appearance at the Ontario Youth Championships where he earned a gold in freestyle and bronze in classic at Hiawatha Highlands.

Having established a name for himself in the youth provincial scene, new challenges on a national level this week excites the young skier as he can determine where he measures up against 140 of the country’s best.

Among those challenges is a 7.5-kilometre freestyle race — two kilometres longer than any event he’s done before.

But the countless hours Tchir devotes to running, biking and other physical activities has him feeling confident about this new opportunity.

“For a longer distance race, you need to have really good base that builds endurance,” Tchir said. “Lots of long, slow cardio sessions that build up endurance. Once that base is layered up, I work on strength and speed. The goal is to maintain speed consistently throughout that far distance.”

SooToday last spoke with Tchir and his younger sister Gwendolyn two years ago after the sibling pair had just completed a successful cross-country skiing season.

Since that time, the older brother admits his competition has gotten much tougher — and he loves it.

“My competitors make it so much fun; they encourage me,” he said. “It’s motivating to see how far I can go while progressing up the ladder and doing bigger races. Being at nationals now, I’m getting the full field of vision in Canada, so the competition is even more intense. It’s really exciting.”

Supported by his parents Kristy and Trevor, Tchir feels incredibly thankful for their help in getting him to this stage.

“I’m super grateful for them,” he said. “My dad waxes my skis which I’m super grateful for, and my mom’s a superstar for helping me on race day. She’s always there and being supportive for my sister and I and getting us ready for the race.”

Tchir is looking forward to taking some much-deserved rest in April before he begins dry-land training again in May.

Regardless of what time of year it is, the aspiring professional skier always has giant goals in mind.

“I really want to see how far I can go, and if it’s Olympics, then that’s awesome,” he said. “Getting to ski at a national training centre and being on a Canadian national team and representing the country on a worldwide stage would certainly be a dream come true.”

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Alex Flood

About the Author: Alex Flood

Alex is a recent graduate from the College of Sports Media where he discovered his passion for reporting and broadcasting
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