Like most 15-year olds, Karel Pelletier is looking forward to that day, now not so far off, when he tosses his mortarboard in the air and strikes out on his own. The future is bright and the possibilities limitless for the Grade 10 student, and for Karel, only one thing is for certain: whatever new horizons await him after graduation, they will have mountains.
“There’s nowhere more peaceful for me than the mountains. The vibe is amazing and the people are always happy up there. No one is worried about anything,” Pelletier says.
Pelletier is one of Wood Buffalo’s most promising athletes, an accomplished snowboarder with numerous acclamations under his belt including a second-place finish at the 2010 Alberta Winter Games, a third-place finish in the 2011 Arctic Winter Games, and gold and silver medal wins in this year’s Arctic Winter Games,held in Whitehorse.
As part of the Winsport Academy’s competitive Level A team out of Calgary, Pelletier has taken to the slopes on mountains all over the continent from Vancouver to Ontario and Colorado to Arizona.
For Pelletier, the duality of the snowboarding experience is what draws him to the slopes day after day – the deep silence of the mountain, broken only by the hiss and crunch of the snowboard cutting through powder, juxtaposed with the pulse-pounding adrenaline rush of pushing the envelope and challenging himself.
“Learning a new trick that you’ve been thinking about for a long time and landing it the first time is such a good feeling, especially when your friends are around to see it,” he explains. “And when you’re just having a mellow day, that’s awesome too – when there’s no pressure and it’s just you and the mountains.”
A good student, Pelletier successfully balances the demands of high school with the rigorous practice schedule required for an athlete competing at his level. The future, he agrees, is wide-open for him. “Like every other snowboarder out there, I hope to be able to get sponsored by companies. My dream is to eventually do it for a living, but that takes a lot of work and skill,” Pelletier says.
“I’m not sure about my future yet, but I love traveling,” he adds. “I want to go everywhere. I’ll probably spend my life discovering new places and new mountains.”