Nestled in the river valley which separates the counties of Flagstaff and Paintearth is the Valley Ski Hill.
A small ski hill when compared to the major ski resorts such as those found in Banff and Jasper, the hill still manages to draw a crowd every year and offers a variety of programming for skiers of all skill levels.
The programming offered varies from basic ski instruction to the Nancy Greene Ski League racing program, the latter program of which has produced a local athlete who is tearing up the slopes on the North American (NorAm) FIS Alpine ski circuit.
Kiersten Vincent, from Galahad, grew up skiing at the Valley Ski Hill. Her dad started her skiing at the age two-and-a-half and enrolled her in the Nancy Greene program at the age of five.
“(Skiing) is my longest term relationship, next to my parents, for sure,” said Vincent, with a laugh, during a recent interview.
FIS level skiing starts at age 16, the age at which Vincent “really committed” herself to the sport.
Recently making the provincial team, Vincent competed in her first World Cup races in December where she had two podium finishes, a first and a third, followed by a race for the NorAm circuit, where she finished sixth overall.
“All the races were at Nikiska,” said Vincent.
Heading into February, Vincent is headed to Ontario for several races before heading to Europe for a few weeks of Europa Cup racing.
“I’m very excited,” said Vincent.
“I’m going to Europe to try and make criteria for selection to the national team for the upcoming year.”
Vincent competes in Skicross, a type of Alpine skiing where skiers are first seeded into heats by time, and then ski head to head against someone else.
“Fastest one wins,” said Vincent.
“It’s easier and more exciting to follow, you know the first person to cross the line won.”
The season for Skicross runs from the end of September until May.
“It’s a long season,” said Vincent.
In the off-season, Vincent does a lot of gym work, works at a brewery — which also happens to be her primary sponsor — and hangs out with her family at Buffalo Lake.
Currently taking a semester off, Vincent, who lives in Calgary at the moment to be close to the provincial ski training centre, is also working on her Bachelor of Kinesiology and is also a member of the Calgary Dinos ski team.