“The terrain here is kind of bumpy, but we make it work,” says Torin Dowe, before using his snowboard to slide along a metal handrail.

The 16-year-old is one of five snowboarders representing Team NWT in Alaska this week.

Dowe did most of his training at Bristol Pit, a former gravel pit just off the main highway in Yellowknife, where there are no line-ups, and no lifts either.

Head coach Nathan Ensing says getting up the hill one of the biggest challenges.

"It takes a lot of energy to walk up the hills, so you don't snowboard for as long and you get tired a lot quicker."

Nathan Ensing

Nathan Ensing is the head coach for Team NWT's snowboarders.

The bowl-shaped slope is tricked out with rails and jumps, but not from your usual supplier.

These were salvaged from the nearby cemetery.

Kyle McKee is another snowboarder on the team. Originally from Ontario, he’s experienced much different terrain.

“The hills [in Ontario] are a lot bigger and there’s lifts and everything. Here, you kind of have to walk up.”

McKee and his teammates also do most of the maintenance themselves, from grooming the pathways to building the jumps.

The size of the hill means there’s aren’t many different obstacles to tackle, but Ensing views that limitation as a strength.

“You get to practice on the same one over and over again, so you kind of get used to it.”

For Dowe and McKee, both 16, practice still lasts three hours.

Ensign says both are looking good, but each started snowboarding just two years ago, and were somewhat daunted about heading to Alaska.

“It's kind of like, 'I hope I don't come in last,” Dowe says. “I don't know how good the other people are going to be."

In Fairbanks this week, Dowe and McKee join teammates Alinda Edda from Fort Simpson, Stan Bertrand from Fort Liard and Tyrone Powder from Fort Smith.