COLORADO – Canada's youngest National Ski Team athlete is showing off some serious skill early in the season.
Canmore's Britt Richardson, 18, was called up to the world cup again for this weekend after taking silver at the season-opening North American Cup (Nor-Am) on Nov. 18 at Copper Mountain Resort in Colorado, USA.
"The first run was decent, but I knew I had more in me," said Richardson, who was "ready to put the hammer down" for a place on the podium.
"At the start of the second run, I was like 'give it all or nothing' so I just went as hard as I can."
On the hunt for hardware, Richardson was .64 seconds behind Sweden's Estelle Alphand for top spot in women's giant slalom (GS) after posting times of 1:08.39 and 1:06.04 in her first and second runs.
The silver was the technical specialist's first-ever Nor-Am medal, which she said was a "crazy change" from just two seasons ago as a rookie trying to find her place.
"I was fighting to make top-30 first run and hoping I could maybe bump up to top-15 or top-20 second run," said Richardson. "Then last year due to COVID there weren't any Nor-Ams, so coming into this season and podium'ing in my first Nor-Am was a big change and it was kind of cool to see this difference in my ski racing where I'm able to push up to being able to podium at Nor-Ams whereas just a few years ago it was so different so I'm hoping to maybe bring this into the world cup circuit in a few years and see this difference as well."
Throughout last summer, Richardson rubbed elbows with the National Ski Team (NST) during training camps in Europe.
Getting on snow early made a big difference, she said, but it also didn't hurt when she made a surprise world debut earlier this season in Soelden, Austria. She got in one run in GS, but didn't qualify for the second.
But for many Nor-Am racers, Copper Mountain was their first race of the season and Richardson was already buried in the competitive spirit.
"Being at the race-level mindset a few weeks before was a lot better going into this race, but at the same time I felt like I wanted to prove something," she said. "I wanted to show what I could do there, so it was cool to be able to lay down a few runs."
In the men's Nor-Am, Banff's Liam Wallace won gold in slalom on Nov. 22. The 22-year-old also just missed the podium to finish fourth in slalom on Nov. 23, and had a pair of 12th places in GS and slalom on Nov. 20-21.
Canmore's Kaite Fynn finished with a 19th in slalom on Nov. 23 to close out the Nor-Am Cup in the women's races. Earlier, she took 25th in slalom and 31st in GS on Nov. 18 and 22.
Following the hot start to the season, Richardson hopped on a plane and flew east for the world cup races this weekend (Nov. 27-28) at Killington Resort in Vermont, USA.
Since 2019, Richardson and Fynn attended Burke Academy in Vermont before graduating this past summer. The sport-school that specializes in skiing is close to Killington Resort, but surprisingly it'll be Richardson's first ride down the slope.
"All the coaches are like 'It's basically your home hill,' and I'm like, 'No, actually I've never been,'" Richardson said with a laugh.
"The hill actually looks quite fun. It's got a lot of rolls to it, it can be steep on the main pits, but I think it should be fun, it should be good and I'm excited."
With a mindset focused on Nor-Ams this season, Richardson said newer opportunities might come up as a result of Killington.
"There are kind of a lot of uncertainties past this race," said Richardson. "I don't really know what direction I'm going to go in, I'm still focusing on the Nor-Ams because that's how I can get world cup spots, but hopefully I can have some more starts later on in the season.
"But hopefully if this race goes well, I'll be able to start a few more and get some more experience under my belt."