Even as a preschooler, it was as if Ryan Moffat already knew exactly what sport he was cut out for.
“I don’t really remember it, but when I was four, my dad gave me a choice between skiing and playing hockey,” said Moffat, 15. “I chose skiing and I’ve always been happy with that decision. It’s what I like doing, more than anything.”
Eleven years later, the decision appears to have been prophetic as Moffat has developed into as one of the top young skiers in all of B.C.
A member of the Big White Racers, the Joe Rich product is fresh off one of the most impressive performances of his young, competitive career.
Moffat won both combined slalom events last weekend at the long-running TECK Enquist Slalom race at Penticton’s Apex Resort.
The two gold medals in the U16 division gave Moffat the overall title and the TECK Enquist Cup, the first Okanagan skier to capture the honour in the 78-year history of the event.
“No one outside the coast had ever won, so Ryan has brought the Okanagan some big bragging rights,” said Big White Racers head coach Trevor Haaheim.
Regarded by his coaches as a fearless racer who holds nothing back, Moffat has had his share of crashes, missed gates and unfinished races over the years. That made last weekend’s win doubly satisfying for the Rutland Secondary student.
“It felt pretty good,” Moffat said of the two gold medals. “I hadn’t finished a combined slalom yet, so to put all those races together and get some consistency was great. I only finished two of my nine training runs before the race, so I’m beginning to use tactics better and ski smarter. It paid off for me.”
His coach, Wade Christie, has watched with great satisfaction over the years as Moffat has grown and developed into an elite racer.
“First and foremost, he loves it, there’s nothing he’d rather be doing,” Christie said of Moffat. “He really has a knack for focusing, and the more difficult the competition, it seems the higher he raises his level. It’s a rare thing to see, but Ryan is an athlete who races better than he trains. He has a lot of talent and skill, but he works really hard, too.”
Christie has watched few young skiers who attack the hill as aggressively or with more fervour than Moffat. And while that style carries with it a level of risk, Christie said Moffat is learning how to harness and channel those abilities into positive results.
“Even though he’s made that way, he knows he can’t just charge into every situation,” Christie said. “He already knows how to go for it, you just can’t teach that raw lack of fear. “Now he’s maturing as an athlete, he’s picking the right times and places and he’s getting results. He’s a special athlete and a humble kid…whatever he has to do to get better, he’ll do it.”
As far as the future is concerned, Moffat would like to soon make his way onto the FIS circuit, the next step up the ladder in competitive skiing.
Further down the road, like any aspiring young skier, Moffat would like to get a taste of the Nor Am and World Cup circuits.
But for now, the talented and driven 15-year-old simply intends to enjoy everything skiing has to offer.
“I’d say skiing for me is about 60 per cent competitive and 40 per cent fun,” he said. “I love going fast, and I like the feeling of being free that skiing gives you. Even when I get a break from racing, I still push it as hard as I can…that’s just how I am.”
Results at the TECK Enquist Slalom for all Big White Racers:
• Ryan Moffat, two gold U16 boys
• Zane Torres, silver and 4th, U16 boys
• Trygg Nelson, 6th, U16 boys
• Ella Alfonso, silver and 3rd, U16 girls
• Olivia Baldassare, 6th, U16 girls
• Brooke Lukinuk, 6th and 7th, U16 girls
• Olivia Kirby, two gold, U18 girls
• Scout McWilliams, silver, U18 girls