It was the perfect end to a great season for Kelowna snowboarding sisters Jade and Tess Critchlow.
The Critchlow girls dominated the Under-20 category at this month’s Canadian Snowboard Nationals, which ended last weekend with both girls standing on the winner’s podium in the snowboard cross event.
In the junior women’s race, Jade, in Grade 12, placed first in Canada while Tess, in Grade 10, was third as the sisters shared the podium.
In the senior category, against Canada’s best female riders of any age, Jade placed third while Tess was eighth in her first national event.
“It was really cool,” said Jade of the national event. “Especially competing against (World Cup number one rider) Dominique Maltais, that was amazing.”
“Getting to the nationals and placing eighth overall was really exciting,” added Tess. “I was pretty happy.”
The nationals ended the competitive snowboarding season as the sport now heads into its training phase before ramping up for another season in August.
For the Critchlow’s it was their most successful season since they started snowboarding competitively at Big White and as members of the B.C. Snowboard Association. Both are now competing at the FIS level, the highest level.
“They both started snowboarding at such a young age and we’ve watched them grow up,” said Cathy Astofooroff of the B.C. Snowboard Association, located in Kelowna. “It’s been fun to watch. This has been an ideal situation. They started young, got hooked on competing and they moved up.”
Jade Critchlow is a member of the national development team while Tess will likely follow in her footsteps once she moves up through Team B.C.
Why wouldn’t she? The girls have been using their family ties to drive each other to higher levels.
“It’s cool to see Tess moving up,” said big sister Jade. “She’s doing better than I was at that age so it’s great to see her progressing. It pushes me to do better. We’re always pushing each other and making sure we’re trying as hard as we can. She’s always trying to catch up and I’m always trying to get ahead.”
Little sister Tess, in her first year as a FIS rider, says the only problem is when they hit the starting gates in the same heat, where two of four riders are eliminated.
“It’s really fun getting to travel with her and racing with her,” Tess said. “It kind of sucks when we are in the heats together because one of us might get eliminated.”
Team B.C. head snowboarding coach Chis Nakonechny has been coaching the Critchlow girls for years and says this past season was one of the best.
“This has been a great season for Jade and Tess,” he said. “They have been working very hard all season and have been rewarded with great results. I look forward to seeing them on top of more podiums in the near future and to helping them to progress to their Olympic goals.”
So it appears the sky is the limit for the snowboarding girls who got their start on the slopes of Big White. Both want to take the sport as far as they can with the Olympics an obvious goal.
Beyond long term goals the two are having fun with a high level sport.
“I don’t think there is any one thing that stands out for me this year,” said Jade. “Getting to go to new places with snowboarding was really cool.”
“Snowboarding is really chill,” said Tess. “Everyone is really friendly and it’s a lot of fun.The best thing is the adrenaline of being in the gates and watching it drop and just giving it your all.”