Freestyle skiers open season with a splash

Even without snow-covered hills, a dedicated group of skiers from northern Alberta are getting their practice in.

On a metal jump covered in plastic carpet, members of the Jasper Freeride Club get big air

Alberta skiers are training at a park in Red Deer, practicing their tricks off a metal jump covered in plastic carpet and then landing in a pond. 1:07

Long before snow cloaks the slopes, dedicated skiers in northern Alberta are getting their practice runs in. 

The Jasper Freeride Club freestyle ski team are training at Three Mile Bend park in Red Deer, where members hurtle down a jump carpeted in plastic, flying into the air while twisting and turning before splashing into a pond.

Skiing is a physically demanding sport, said head coach Nicholas Bazin, pointing to the young, hard-working regional- and provincial-level athletes training on their weekends in wet suits.

"What I get the most is skiing is a sport for lazy because you take the chair lift up and just let gravity get you down," Bazin said. "That gets me because, you know, so many times I go skiing and I'm sweating.

"It's not 'cause I'm not in shape. I'm sweating 'cause I'm working hard."

Freestyle skiing requires a breadth of skills, including air sense, balance, flexibility and strength, he said.

"When you hit those big jumps with the speed you get and the big landing, you need to be really strong to absorb the impact," Bazin said.

Skiing is also a challenging sport mentally, he added.

"That's why the communication between a coach and an athlete is really important," Bazin said, "so that we can focus on the one or two little things that will make the run better, that will make that little failure back to a success."