TRURO, N.S. – Caelan Shaw first strapped on her skis when she was just three years old.
Now 16, the Bible Hill resident is attending Canada Games in Red Deer, Alta., where she is racing for Nova Scotia in the freestyle skiing category.
“I’m excited, I’m nervous,” Shaw said earlier this week. “I’ve never actually competed at such a big level, so this will be a new experience. I just want to have fun and do my best and I don’t care if I’m in the top three, as long as I do my personal best.”
Her skiing career began when a family friend, who was also a ski instructor, took her out onto the slopes, hoping to get Shaw’s entire family hooked on the sport.
Her parents’ friend originally wanted Shaw to take up alpine skiing, but she has practiced and competed in the freestyle version for about seven years, training at Ski Wentworth every winter.
During the warm season, Shaw keeps in shape for the slopes by working out regularly at the gym and performing dryland training on trampolines as well as an airbag. The latter technique has athletes skiing down a ramp onto an inflatable ‘mattress’ as a substitute for snow.
During the winter, Shaw and her fellow skiers perform constant skiing drills on the snow at Wentworth.
“It’s like trying to think why a person straps two pieces of wood onto their feet and races down a hill,” said Shaw. “It’s kinda relaxing, you can hear the snow and sometimes the ice below your feet.”
Adopted as a baby from China, Shaw has spent nearly all of her life in Bible Hill, where she lives with her family and attends Cobequid Educational Centre.
When not on the ski slopes, Shaw enjoys playing the guitar. She takes her studies seriously and always completes her homework on time, describing herself as “strongly academic.”
While Shaw is keen to keep skiing, she is considering working as a coach and already tutors younger children on the slopes. She has no immediate plans to try out for Team Canada at the Olympics.
Shaw left for the two-week-long Canada Games on Feb. 14, just one day before the opening ceremony in Red Deer and is one of 11 Colchester County athletes on the roster.
Flying the flag for Nova Scotia at the opening ceremony is 18-year-old Alex Watters from Halifax Regional Municipality.
Athletes at the games will compete in skiing, snowboarding, artistic gymnastics, artistic swimming, biathlon, boxing, freestyle skiing, men's hockey, ringette, table tennis, speedskating, wheelchair basketball, archery, badminton, cross country skiing, curling, figure skating, judo, squash, trampoline and women's hockey.