Fernie freeskier ranked first in North America
It's been an amazing season so far for local freeskier Andrea Byrne. The 16 year-old Fernie girl is currently ranked number one in North America with the International Freeski Association.
This is Byrne's second year competing in her age group and she is happy to have climbed her way to the top.
“It's really cool. Last year I finished fifth, which was pretty cool too,” remarked Byrne. “Last year was my first year in the 15 to 18 category so this year I'm kind of getting used to it and moving up in the category which is great.”
As many Fernie kids get an early start, Byrne first stepped into a pair of skis when she was just two years-old.
“I started free-skiing when I was about 12 and did my first competition in Kimberley and got third,” explained Byrne. “My parents decided it would be a good thing for me to get into.”
Fast forward a few years later and Byrne has made her mark on the sport after competing all over the world. This season alone she placed first at the Jeep Junior Freeski tour stop in Kimberley in January and second at the tour's stop in Fernie in February. Byrne also came in third at the GoPro Junior Freeski Challenge in Whistler in February and is this year's recipient of the Travis Steeger award.
“I like all the people I get to meet and the places I get to go,” said Byrne. “I've met so many great people all around the world and it's opened so many doors for me.”
Growing up in Fernie gave Byrne the chance to admire other local talents. “Dylan Siggers is one of my biggest idols around Fernie,” commented Byrne. “I really look up to him because he's gone to a lot of places with it. He's a really big role model for me; Luke Nelson is as well.”
The community of Fernie has also served as a place of support for Byrne.
“Fernie is amazing. It's just such a small town and everyone kind of knows that you're doing well with it, so I always get random people coming up and congratulating me, and it's really great to have that support,” said Byrne. “I want to thank Commit Snow and Skate for sponsoring me for the last few years and Fernie Lodging Company as well. Fernie Physiotherapy has also been great to me.”
The season's not over yet. Byrne will compete at the Junior Big Mountain Challenge in Lake Louise March 6 to 9 and in a regional competition at Castle Mountain March 14 to 16. If she can hold on to her ranking with the International Freeski Association, Byrne will be off to the North American Finals at Snowbird Ski Resort in Utah in April.