Warfield’s Pitman brothers are getting ready to hit the slopes and take the next big jump in their snowboarding careers.
After skiing for Team B.C. last season, Mitch and Tommy Pitman were invited to train with the National Development Team and are heading to Europe this month to practice on a special track made for Canada’s elite boarders.
The development team is a staging area for junior racers to make the jump to the National Team.
The trip to Austria is the first intensive training session of the season and the brothers are looking forward to it.
“The National team is going to be there so it will be good to train with them,” said Tommy.
The 18-year-old twins fly into Munich, Ger. then will drive to Switzerland to pick up a pair of high tech Kessler snowboards before heading to Austria for a two week boarder-cross-track training session on the Hintertux Glacier.
The cross-track snowboarders attended the World Junior Snowboarding Championships in Italy last year and are hoping to make it to the World’s in Spain this year but their sights are set on even bigger events in Canada.
“There’s a couple World Cups in Canada that would be good if we qualified for those,” said Tommy.
The host national team is awarded six extra spots in World Cup events, so the Pitman brothers hope to be at the starting gate at Stoneham, Quebec in February. But to qualify, they must perform well at Nor-Am competitions.
“They’ve never been to a World Cup yet, but that is the goal – to make it to the next level,” explained their mother Valerie Pitman.
Upon their return from Europe they will train in Whistler for November, then at Powder King in Smithers, and back home at Red Mountain for late December and January.
Racing season begins with a Nor-Am competition at Big White in Kelowna in January followed by a number of locations in the U.S.
Performing well at the Canadian Nationals and a third trip to the World Juniors would be very satisfying but competing in a World Cup Race against the world’s best would be a remarkable achievement for the junior boarders.
“Junior Worlds is nothing compared to the World Cup; it is so much higher (competition) than the juniors. It wouldn’t matter where you placed,” said Tommy.
As for the future, the 2018 Olympics might be more realistic than the 2014, but it’s definitely a goal for the Pitmans.
“Just to keep snowboarding is the goal,” added Mitch.
Not always a simple goal when training trumps work and often studies in the quest for top finishes.
Making the national team means the brothers will be eligible for government funding, until then they’ve had support from the community, their parents and Teck’s Possibilities Fund.
The two have been snowboarding since they were seven and competing since 14, but the main thing, says their mom, is that they still enjoy it despite the rigorous training, commitment and many sacrifices.
“It’s kind of like more of a job sometimes,” said Tommy.
“But even if it was your job, it would still be the best job you could get,” added Mitch.