An opportunity of a lifetime came true for David Thompson Secondary School student Martin Grasic when he competed in the first ever Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck Austria.
“It was definitely pretty cool, and it was pretty big, which I was impressed with,” Grasic, a Grade 11 student, said. “It felt pretty real.”
The games took place from January 13 to 22, and featured over 1,100 athletes aged 14 to 18 from 70 countries.
Grasic competed in the sport of alpine skiing, and when the games were all wrapped up, he came home after a solid showing that saw him net a 10th place finish in the men’s slalom and a 20th in the super-combined. Unfortunately, he was unable to finish the giant slalom or the super-G.
“It was a little bit intimidating,” Grasic said. “You don’t know where you’re going to stack up, but it was a lot of fun and a really good experience, I really enjoyed the competition. My skiing wasn’t that strong at the start, so I had a couple tough races.”
Grasic began skiing at the tender age of five, as part of the Windermere Valley Ski Club.
He says both his mother and father were also competitive ski racers in their time, while his father is still a ski coach. He credits them for getting him into the sport when he was younger.
“I just kind of grew up skiing, and I always really enjoyed it,” he said. “For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to be a ski racer. It’s just a really great feeling, when you finish a good run.”
Having never competed in Europe before, Grasic said he really enjoyed his time there, including the time spent in the host city of Innsbruck. Having previously hosted the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics, Innsbruck has now become the first city in the world to host three Olympic events.
Next for Grasic is the J1 National Championships in Whistler from March 6 to 11. The top five J1 athletes in each discipline then qualify for the Canadian Senior Championships, and Grasic says his time and experience at the Youth Games should really help him with this and future competitions.
“I definitely learned a lot about how to prepare for a ski race,” Grasic said. “You can’t really hold back. Really, in the end, it’s just one race and you just have to give your all… you can’t expect to finish every run.”