Alison Brown twists and turns her way to the top
The 16-year-old freestyle skier from Edmonton has been dominating the podium over the past three seasons, winning 10 out of 12 provincial competitions she’s entered, including all five this year.
Despite her success with the Jasper Freeride Ski Team and offers to join the provincial team, she’s content with the ways things are.
“I didn’t really clue in to how well it was going until someone brought it up,” said Brown, who competes in the moguls.
“I’ve been offered to join the provincial team twice before but I’ve said no both times.”
For Brown the decision was easy.
“My sister was on the team and I really saw what you had to do and it’s not for me.”
“She missed about 90 days of school in a school year and spent a lot of time travelling and nights doing homework. I’m a home body, I like routines and being organized.”
While Marmot Basin might feel like home to Brown, it hasn’t always been that way.
Born in Toronto, she got her first taste of skiing at the age of two.
“I don’t know what it’s like not being able to ski. It’s a weird feeling.”
Two years later her family moved to Edmonton and quickly enrolled all three children with Marmot Basin’s ski school.
At the end of their first season the Jasper Freeride Ski Team was holding a mini competition for their club and invited her older sister from Marmot’s jumps and bumps program. Later that night the Freeride team had a social event at the Legion where her parents got to meet some of the other families.
The initial plan was to keep Brown and her older brother enrolled with the ski school, but because Marmot decided to run the program differently her parents opted to give the Freeride team a try enrolling all three of their children the following season.
“I have been coming up here every weekend since I was five,” said Brown, “We rent a basement apartment in town, so we’re basically locals.”
As the youngest of three siblings Brown got a front row seat watching her older brother and sister dial in their tricks, ultimately landing her sister a spot with the Alberta Mogul Team. Her brother was also invited to join the team, but turned it down to go to school instead. Both are now coaches for the Edmonton Freestyle Ski Club.
Following in her siblings ski turns, Brown has proven that she can compete against the best-of-the-best, even when she is regularly younger than her competitors.
“Three years ago when I won my first provincial I was 14,” said Brown, who competes against girls in the under-18 category.
She said her secret to success is training hard and not taking it too seriously.
“I’m pretty focused, but I have fun with it while I’m doing it,” said Brown, “I also try to focus on my own skiing as much as I can.”
Her top two tricks are a 360-spin and twister-spread eagle, but it’s not her tricks that get her to the top of her podium, it’s her turns and speed.
“My turns compared to the other girls are pretty good,” said Brown, “When I look at the scores that’s where I see where I get most of my extra points.”
While a 360-spin and a twister-spread eagle sound impressive enough, most girls these days are doing inverted tricks.
“That’s the thing that’s crazy about this. They’re all flipping and I’m can still beat them with a 360 and a twister-spread.”
She credits a lot of her success to her coach Nic Bazin and Randy Timmins.
“Alison Brown is the most dedicated athlete I have never had the chance to work with,” wrote Bazin, who has coached her for the past six years.
“We rarely see an athlete that is this consistent in her performance. She is technically ready and mentally strong enough to be able to adjust to any type of snow and weather and pull off solid run after solid run.”
As one of the most senior members on the team, he said Brown has also played an important role as a mentor for other girls on the team.
“She has been a great role model for them and we hope that the exposure to Alison will pave the way for many more excellent female athletes in the sport.”
Although she’s not sure if she’ll be back again next season, she said skiing will always remain an important part of her life.
“I’ll ski for the rest of my life and my kids will ski too, there’s no doubt about it.”