Road To The Olympic Games

Youth Olympics

Canadian snowboarder Liam Brearley wins silver at Youth Olympics

Sixteen-year-old Liam Brearley won a silver medal in snowboarding at the Youth Olympics on Monday. He hopes its a precursor to success at a Winter Olympics down the road.

Postponed event allows travel-delayed family to watch Ontario teen capture medal

Snowboarder Liam Brearley celebrates his silver-medal finish in men's slopestyle at the Youth Olympics in Switzerland on Monday. (Thomas Skrlj/COC/CBC)

LEYSIN — From a small town in Ontario to the Swiss Alps to a silver medal at the Youth Olympics.

It was a long journey getting to the Games for Canadian snowboarder Liam Brearley, but perhaps not quite as long as the one taken by his mother, sister and grandmother.

Delayed two days because of weather in Toronto and Montreal, Janis Brearley, Emma Brearley and Beth Brescacin were devastated because it looked as though they were going to miss Liam's first competition, which was scheduled for Sunday.

But in a twist of fate, high winds in the mountains postponed the competition until Monday, giving the trio time to get there after all.

With a brilliant sun blasting down on the mountainside, Janis, Emma and Beth went wild as Liam soared and spun through the air, capturing silver for Canada in the men's snowboard slopestyle.

WATCH | Liam Brearley wins silver:

Canadian Liam Brearley finishes 2nd in the men's final with a top run score of 85.33. 1:38

"This is crazy. I'm so glad my family was here to see this. I'm stoked I put down a good enough run to come in second," Liam said at the bottom of the hill.

There were nerves going into the final three runs of the day for Liam, but he says having family and friends watching helped calm him to deliver a second-place performance.

Brearley gets some air on his way to finishing second. (Thomas Skrlj/COC/CBC)
"I was nervous but we're all friends here, especially in snowboarding. And I think that gave me the confidence to go out and put down a real good run," Liam said.

Janis ran down the side of the mountain from where she watched, carrying a Canadian flag, and then wrapped her arms around her son.

"I'm so proud of him. It's amazing to see him succeed at what he loves," she said. "It's been a roller-coaster of emotions. It's been up and down like a slopestyle course."

Liam's three cheerleaders had shared tears in the Toronto and Montreal airports as weather delayed their flights, thinking they were going to miss a moment like Monday's. They shared tears again on the mountainside, overwhelmed by their luck with weather forcing his event's delay.

"Heart bursting in your chest and it's not a heart attack. That's the feeling right now. I'm so proud," Brescacin said.

"It was worth the wait. This has been an experience of a lifetime."

WATCH | CBC Sports' Devin Heroux with Liam Brearley:

Canada's Liam Brearley discusses his 2nd place results in men's snowboard slopestyle at Youth Olympic Games. 1:09

Liam's sister, Emma, didn't find out she was going to be attending the Youth Olympics with her mom and grandmother until just days before, and she beamed with excitement as she watched her brother capture a silver medal for Canada.

"I have no words. I'm just so happy. I was so nervous and he did it," Emma said. "We didn't know what was going to happen or how it was going to turn out."

Brearley's mother, grandmother and sister were able to overcome travel delays to make it to the mountain to watch him compete. (Thomas Skrlj/COC/CBC)

This is the first time Janis, Emma and Beth have traveled to Europe.

"I'm sure Liam will go to thousands of more places than I ever will in my lifetime," Brescacin said. "I live vicariously through him."

Having his family alongside him today meant everything to Liam.

"I was very glad [the event was postponed on Sunday]. When I came here this morning and they were here I was so much happier," he said.

Fellow Canadian snowboarder Liam Gill finished 11th while William Buffey crashed just prior to the final runs of the competition. Officials close to the team tell CBC Sports he suffered broken ribs and a separated shoulder.

Liam and his mother, Janis, share a hug. (Thomas Skrlj/COC/CBC)
Brearley, 16, is a Grade 11 student from Gravenhurst, Ont. He received his first snowboard from his grandparents when he was just seven years old — a year later he competed in his first-ever competition.

He's now a Canadian NextGen athlete on the junior national team, soaking up his Youth Olympic experience.

"It's such an honour to represent Canada like this," Liam said.

He received his Team Canada gear for the Youth Olympics a week before Christmas and his mom says she'll never forget her son's reaction when it arrived.

"It was so fun. It was better than Christmas. He was opening the box and we went through it together," Janis said.

It's a silver-medal start for the young Canadian. And Liam thinks this is just the beginning.

"I want to do this again. I want to be at the Olympics. Today was awesome," he said.

How Canada fared Monday:

Florence Brunelle of Trois-Rivieres, Que., won bronze in the women's 500-metre short-track speed skating final.

In the luge mixed team relay Monday, Calgary's Kailey Allan, Vancouver's Natalie Corless and Caitlin Nash of Whistler, B.C., combined with Italy's Alex Gufler to finish fourth.

In the women's freeski halfpipe, Calgary's Emma Morozumi was eighth.

WATCH | Florence Brunelle on her bronze medal:

Canadian short track speed skater Florence Brunelle reflects on her 3rd place result in women's 500m final at the Youth Olympic Games. 1:00

About the Author

Devin Heroux

CBC reporter

Devin Heroux reports for CBC News and Sports. He is now based in Toronto, after working first for the CBC in Calgary and Saskatoon.

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