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Jasper athlete competes to be crowned All-Round Champion on television series

Gage Leblanc competes provincially in freestyle skiing. He coached the other young competitors with an Olympic athlete for the television show All-Round Champion. | marblemedia photo

Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter | reporter@fitzhugh.ca

Jasper freestyle skier Gage Leblanc is one of 10 athletes soon to hit television screens across North America.

Leblanc is being featured in the second season of All-Round Champion, where 10 of the best athletes in the continent get together to compete in each other’s respective sports.

On the show, the young athletes from Canada and the U.S. take turns coaching each other in their respective sports including luge, figure skating, ice climbing, dog mushing, and ski jumping.

The athlete who earns the most points is crowned All-Round Champion at the end of the series. 

Gage Leblanc (fourth from right) was one of 10 athletes in Canada and the U.S. chosen to be in the second season of All-Round Champion. The premiere airs on Jan. 6.  | marblemedia photo 

Leblanc said he had a blast being part of the show.

“The cool thing was I got to coach freestyle mogul skiing with an Olympic athlete,” he said. 

Leblanc wasn’t allowed to reveal that person’s identity due to pre-airing confidentiality rules.

It all started when Leblanc got a message on Instagram from show organizers in September of 2019, who sent him a link to apply to be in the series. 

After doing some research he felt comfortable with the company and sent in a video explaining why he should be on the show. 

He said, “I said I was a very competitive athlete, still am a competitive athlete and would love to have this experience of being on the show, meeting all the athletes and competing at that level against all the other athletes.”

Leblanc is 15 and has been skiing for 12 or 13 years of his life. He was on the alpine race team at the age of five and his focus and intensity have taken him far.

Judges liked the first video Leblanc sent in, and asked for another with Leblanc describing what separated him from other athletes and where he was in his competition.

The third step in his application was a 20-minute FaceTime interview with one of the cast workers – the same person who messaged him on Instagram.

Then it was a waiting game. 

“I was pretty nervous, waiting to hear either way what was going on,” Leblanc said.

On Nov. 15, 2019, Leblanc had just finished a day at school when he got an answer. 

“I got an email confirming I was chosen to be on All-Round Champion,” he said. 

Aside from a few close friends, Leblanc had to keep his exciting news to himself.

Part of the preparation for the series was a biography about the teenager.

A film crew came to Jasper for a day and Leblanc was filmed at Marmot Basin to give viewers more information about who he is, his sport and where he trains. 

Then Leblanc waited some more. 

About a month and a half later he got an email that filming started on Jan. 12 and preparations were made so he could keep up with schoolwork while he was away. 

He and his mom, Beth, flew to the filming location near Toronto, where he stayed for the next 10 weeks by himself.

“It was pretty hard to be away from family and friends,” he said. 

The All-Round Champion athletes stayed in a huge mansion with a fireplace, recliners and TVs. 

A typical day started anytime between 4:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m., depending on what sport was being filmed. The den parents did their best to ensure the athletes got a minimum of eight hours of sleep, but, “It didn’t happen all the time,” Leblanc laughed. 

“We made our own breakfast, but our lunch and dinner were made for us,” Leblanc said. “There were a lot of different things, a variety of food.

“A pretty quick one was a peanut butter and banana sandwich, water and milk.” 

In each episode, Gage Leblanc (front) took part in a different winter sport, including cross country skiing, ice climbing and speed skating. | marblemedia photo 
Gage Leblanc (left) took part in sports including curling, luge and figure skating during his time on the show. | marblemedia photo 

After a day of filming the group returned to the house for supper.

“It was pretty draining,” Leblanc said. For reasons of confidentiality, he wasn’t allowed to share more details.

In February, Leblanc’s mom, dad Chris and brother Cache flew out to join him for Family Day weekend.

Filming of the 11 episodes was completed in March. Leblanc flew home on Mar. 13, narrowly missing the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re so lucky he was able to have that experience,” Beth said. 

The 11-episode season of All-Round Champion premieres in Canada on TVO on Jan. 6. Each show is 60 minutes long. The series was produced by Canadian entertainment production company, marblemedia.  

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