Okanagan residents will soon be able to witness their very own Tess Critchlow compete on home soil at the Inaugural Barrels and Berms FIS SBX World Cup at Big White Ski Resort.
From Jan. 20 to 27, the Kelowna native will compete with the Canadian National Team in the SBX team boardercross competition with the goal of placing first in front of friends and family.
Since 2001, Critchlow has entered nearly every snowboard competition held at Big White Ski resort.
In 2013 and 2014 she won back-to-back junior national titles and has also recorded numerous Nor-Am Cup podium finishes at Big White.
“Big White feels like home so I think having that comfort could be an advantage if I use it properly,” said Critchlow.
“I will have lots of family coming to watch and friends as well. The whole Big White community feels like home so I know will feel very supported.”
Through the 2016-17 season, Critchlow has earned four top-10 finishes at the World Cup, highlighted by sixth-place finishes in Feldberg, Germany in January 2016 and Bansko, Bulgaria in February 2017. She also won the national title in 2016.
But while Critchlow will use the familiarity of Big White to her advantage, she recognizes that she needs to perform at an elite level to come away on top.
“Go fast and keep’er base down, that’s what my parents used to say,” chuckled Critchlow, referring to her game plan.
“Every course requires something a little different depending on the features and flow of the track. Generally, you need to make sure you’re pushing forward through every move. minimize your air time and keep your base as flat as possible. I have raced (at Big White) many times, but this will be a new vamped up track so as always it could be anyone’s day.”
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Critchlow made her Olympic debut in Pyeongchang in 2018, finishing 9th, as the top Canadian in women’s snowboard cross.
Having competed at the highest professional level, Critchlow said she has learned how to handle the expectations and immense pressures of competing under the spotlight.
”The Olympics is the biggest event I’ve competed in and learning how to manage the feeling that all eyes are on you is something I can bring into Big White, knowing ill have so much support and I want to do my hometown proud.”
Richard Hegarty, a spokesperson for Canada Snowboard has been watching Critchlow compete for many years and has much confidence that she can find success on home soil.
“Tess is a strong contender and has a very good chance of making it through to the finals,” said Hegarty.
“She has the ability to be in the final heat and with the support of family and friends around it only increases her chances.”
Both the individual SBX and the teams SBX events World Cup titles will be contested, with the team event being a new Olympic competition set to debut in 2022.
With the World Cup being the biggest event of the year, Critchlow vowed the importance of finishing high and moving up the rankings, looking towards the next Olympics in Beijing.
“Every World Cup is an equal opportunity to move up in the overall ranks,” said Critchlow.
“We don’t have a very packed circuit so it’s important to lay it all out there every race.”