It took until the second last race of his second season on the Nor-Am ski cross circuit, but Ned Ireland found a way to break through.
The 18-year-old from Okanagan Centre reached the podium for the first time on the Nor-Am tour with a silver-medal showing last weekend at Panorama.
In the four-man final, Ireland finished second only to Whistler’s Tyler Murray.
“It was really nice, awesome to get that first podium,” said Ireland, who is also a student at UBC Okanagan. “It was a really fun course, too. I had some struggles and a bit of bad luck this season, so this one felt pretty good.”
Growing up in a skiing family, Ireland is a former alpine racer and competed with the Big White Racers.
But two years ago, he decided the make the move to ski cross racing and hasn’t looked back since.
“I love the jumps, I love competing and having people beside you racing,” said Ireland, who has competed is six events this season in Vermont, Ontario and Utah. “It’s a good adrenalin rush.”
Ireland admits both Kelsey Serwa and Ian Deans, two World Cup ski cross competitors from Kelowna, were part of his decision to make the shift from alpine.
“It helped a lot watching them. Ian is a good friend and I was always interested in what he was doing. It’s been a good move.”
This weekend, Ireland will wrap up the season at the Nor-Am ski cross finals in Mt. Hood, Oregon.