Vernon freestyle skier reaches Olympic dream

Elena Gaskell one of 24 athletes named by Freestyle Canada to the Canadian Olympic team Monday, Jan. 24

Vernon’s Elena Gaskell has been named to the Canadian Olympic team in freestyle skiing. (elena.gaskell/Instagram photo)

Vernon’s Elena Gaskell has been named to the Canadian Olympic team in freestyle skiing. (elena.gaskell/Instagram photo)

Tears of self-doubt that poured out of her just four months ago have turned to tears of joy for Vernon freestyle skier Elena Gaskell.

The Vernon Freestyle Ski Club alumnus’ dream of competing on the world’s biggest stage at the Winter Olympics came true Monday, Jan. 24, when she was one of 24 athletes nominated by Freestyle Canada to the Olympic team.

“I can hardly believe it’s coming true,” said Gaskell, 20, in a poignant social media post, admitting the past few years going into Beijing, China, host city for the 2022 Winter Games, haven’t been easy. She has battled physical and mental struggles.

“I remember back in October this year fully crying to my parents because I didn’t believe I would be good enough to make it,” said Gaskell, who will represent Canada in the slopestyle/big air discipline. “I dealt with injury after injury and that takes a toll on you. I am so lucky though to have such amazing group of people supporting me and help get me through it. The love I have for this sport made everything I’ve went through feel worth it as well.

“I’d like to thank my family, friends, teammates,coaches and sponsors for all your continuous support to get me to where I am today. I can not wait for this experience. I am so incredibly fortunate.

Freestyle Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee nominated 24 Canadian freestyle skiers across four disciplines – slopestyle/big air, moguls, aerials, halfpipe – to compete at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games Feb. 3-19.

Team Canada has won 25 Olympic medals in freestyle skiing, across all disciplines, including a gold in moguls from the past four Games. Beijing 2022 will mark the Olympic debut for 15 of Team Canada’s freestyle skiers including Gaskell, who has three World Cup podiums and a 15th-place showing at the 2019 FIS World Championships on her resumé.

“Freestyle Canada is proud of all its program athletes but particularly today of this group who have distinguished themselves by being selected to represent Canada at the XXIV Olympic Winter Games,” said Freestyle Canada CEO Peter Judge. “We will be sending our largest contingent ever with a total of 24 athletes competing across five disciplines and 11 events. We are excited to see them embark on this journey and carry on the proud tradition that Freestyle Canada has at the Games.”

Gaskell joins fellow North Okanagan athletes Emma Lunder (Coldstream, biathlon) and Kevin Hill (Vernon, snowboard cross) on the Canadian Olympic team.

READ MORE: Vernon’s Vasek Pospisil, Elena Gaskell, honoured for excellence

READ MORE: Greater Vernon athletes nominated for Olympic spots

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Elena Gaskell of Vernon has been named to Freestyle Canada NextGen team. (Photo Submitted)