Every weekend in the winter, Griffen Hart makes the roughly three hour trip to Mount Washington to practice the sport he loves — alpine skiing.
The 12-year-old Central Middle School student drives up with his family, catches the bus, or hitches a ride with another club member for the opportunity to practice his skills with the Mount Washington Ski Club.
Once on the mountain, he spends hours working on perfecting basic technical skills, edging, and stance and balance required from a successful alpine skier.
Hart’s hard work and dedication has paid off. He is the only alpine skier from Victoria to be selected to compete in the B.C. Winter Games in Penticton at the end of the month.
Alpine skiing comes naturally to the youngster. Hart’s parents first taught him to ski when he was just two years old. Since then, he’s been ripping it up on the hill and honing his skills on the course.
“When you’re on the course and you’re going fast, it’s fun,” Hart said, adding skiing has become a family affair. His mother, father and nine-year-old brother travel to the hill to ski every weekend as well.
Despite having less of an opportunity to practice his skills through the week compared to skiers from the Lower Mainland, the stiff competition isn’t scaring him.
The Games will be Hart’s first foyer into a big competition, but he’s also competed in a number of local races including the Teck GS U14 earlier this year and Own the Podium U12 last year, both at Mount Washington.
John Trimmer, head coach of the Mount Washington Ski Club, said Hart’s dedication to the sport sets him apart from other athletes.
“It is a larger commitment to anyone outside the community,” Trimmer said. “His dedication, his love of the sport is definitely his strength. He’s always out there working on his skiing and being with his teammates.”
Since he’s one of the younger competitors in the U14 age group, Hart hopes to finish in the top 20 at the Winter Games.
“I just want to try and go faster all the time,” he said. “If I could finish in the top 20, that would be fine.”
Saanich’s Meaghan Ellard-Webster and Oak Bay’s Taylor Brooke and Luka Djurickovic will also represent the Vancouver Island-Central Coast zone at the Games.
The B.C. Winter Games takes place Feb. 25 to 28 in Penticton. Other sports include archery, badminton, biathlon, curling, diving, figure skating, ringette and skiing cross-country.