The first time Elise Dube put on a pair of skis she was two-years-old. The first time she strapped herself onto a snowboard she was seven-years-old.
She naturally gravitated towards skiing and snowboarding, and that love and countless hours she has spent honing her craft have landed her a sport on the B.C. Provincial Snowboard Cross team for the 2014 season.
At 16-years-old, she has already reached the peak in her sport at the high school sports level, competing in the BCSS High School Provincial Championships every year since Grade 8, finishing atop the podium the past two years.
This year’s first-place finish, during the provincial championships March 3-5, in Whistler, was particularly impressive.
Elise finished with a combined two-day total time of 3:06.62, beating the closest rider by over eight seconds
She travelled to Big White, in Kelowna, April 7-8 for provincial team tryouts.
The atmosphere was fairly relaxed during the two days, she was able to check out the snowboard cross run on day one, the second day included fitness testing, as well as performing for coaches, who videotaped her runs for further evaluation.
It wasn’t until three weeks later, on a bus ride home from a high school soccer tournament in Merritt, that she found out that she’d been selected to the team.
“She got cell services, and she came up to me and told me she made the team,” Patti Dube, her mom, said, “she asked me what she should do, and I told her if I was 16-years-old I’d be all over this.”
Her parents are her coaches on the school ski and snowboard team, and Pat and Patti Dube are immensly proud of her.
“We’re just really proud,” Patti said, “she if she wants to carry on, she’s young, she can have this opportunity and she where it takes her, and maybe after this year she’s like this is it this is what I want to pursue, so it’s exciting.”
To the average observer she makes it look effortless.
Her dad, Pat, says that her greatest aspect as a rider is the power she can generate as she carves her way down the mountain, adding that the ruts she leaves are nearly twice as deep as her competition, which indicates the power she is generating.
Elise says that her greatest attribute is she doesn’t play it safe when she races.
“I don’t play it easy every time I go down,” Elise said, “every time I go down I don’t play it cautious just because it may be icy, or because the conditions might not be the best. I always go all out every time.”
Working with the provincial team will give her access to elite coaching and training, such as, sport specific trainers, nutritionists, sports psychologists and physiotherapists, as well as travelling to various mountains and resorts to workout on different courses and terrains than she is used to, including a three week training session in Santiago, Chile and a two week training session in Keystone, Colorado.
The aspect of training that will be paramount for Elise is improving her starts.
Snowboard cross is an event where four riders race down the course, trying to finish first, it is not a timed event.
If she doesn’t start well, it won’t matter how much power and speed she can generate, she will have a tough time passing three other riders on the narrow courses.
“Especially with snow cross because it’s not like a timed event where you can get away with a poor start and make it up through your other attributes,” Pat Dube said, “if you get behind someone, let alone three people, your chances of winning have dropped to somewhere around four per cent, you can’t be last.”
Linden Ruecker, head coach of the B.C. provincial snowboard cross team says that the goal of the team is to train riders, and prepare them for the next level, the Canadian national team and the Olympics.
Whether or not Elise pursues snowboard cross that far hasn’t been determined.
She says she doesn’t have any long term goals besides making it through this year. She is active in many other sports, but this is an opportunity for her to decide whether or not she wants to pursue snowboard cross further.
“I just want to get through this year,” Elise said, “just seeing where I stand compared to a lot of people, especially when I get a racing board, and training with the team will make a big different. Just seeing what it’s really like.”