Going fast on a pair of skis carries a special appeal for Ryan Moffat.
So does representing his country at an international sporting event.
The 17-year-old from Kelowna will be doing both next month when he travels with Canada’s contingent to the Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway.
Moffat is one of four athletes—two male and two female—who will compete for Canada in alpine skiing against many of the world’s top U18 racers.
“It’s special,” Moffat said of racing for Canada in Norway. “It’s not every day that only two guys from Canada are representing our country in alpine skiing.
“I’m super excited and am going to try and experience everything I possibly can while showing off our nation’s colours.”
The No. 1-ranked GS (giant slalom) FIS skier for his age in Canada in 2015, Moffat made the grade for the Youth Olympic Games last month with his performance at a qualifying event at Panorama. In a field of 15 contenders, Moffat finished third in the GS and second in slalom.
In Lillehammer, Moffat will compete in Super G, GS, alpine combined and slalom.
And while skiing will be his main focus during the event, Moffat plans to absorb all the experiences the games have to offer.
“I talked to one of the guys who went to (Youth Olympics) in 2012 in Innsbruck, and he said if you ever get a chance to get there, it’s an awesome experience,” said Moffat, who lives in Joe Rich and trains predominantly at Apex Mountain. ‘I’ll learn lots, you get to meet a lot of people, take part in the ceremonies and everything else that a big event like this has.
“It’s a whole new level for me and I’m excited.”
Okanagan Ski Team head coach Derek Trussler has watched Moffat’s development over the years and continues to see both physical and mental growth in the young skier.
Trussler said much of Moffat’s success comes from being self-motivated.
“Ryan is really independent, he’s able to work hard and be motivated on his own,” Trussler said. “He knows how to work hard. He’s from a smaller club competing against bigger teams, and he doesn’t have a lot of athletes to push him. He’s able able to push himself.”
As for what Moffat stands to learn at the Youth Olympics, Trussler said the experience and knowledge gained will be invaluable.
“If anything, it will open his eyes to what’s out there,” Trussler added. “The best kids in the world are going to be there, the fastest there are.
“It’ll be a good learning experience going overseas, and with some training hopefully he’ll be at a pace where he’ll compete with them and have a good showing.”
As for Moffat’s expectations in Norway, the young skier isn’t sure what goals are realistic, but plans to hold nothing back.
“It’s hard to know how I’ll measure up, these are the most competitive guys my age I’ll have skied against, so I’m going to just give it my all,” he said. “I’m going to prepare the best I can, and who knows maybe I can pull something out of the hat. If not, it’ll be a new experience for me, something I can learn a lot from.”
The Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer run from Feb. 12 to 22.