Ottawa Sports Awards 2015 male athlete of the year Dustin Cook. File photo
By Alex Quevillon
With a prominent run named in his honour, an engaging social media presence, and a couple of noteworthy ailments to his knee and his nether regions, Ottawa skier Dustin Cook is anything but boring to track.
He tagged his recent painful experience in Aspen, CO the “Dustin Cook straddle” on social media and made light of his collision with a gate in his World Cup finale on Mar. 16.
“It's just my personality, I like to be engaging,” smiles Cook, who wrote: “Pretty much sums up my season. Happy to finish with fast skiing, wish I would've made made it to the finish in a better way than the above,” while suggesting an equipment manufacturer develop a new protective product.
“It’s marketing and it's fun,” adds the 28-year-old. “You always get people who want to know more about the sport and it's good to engage and grow your brand.”
A resume like Cook’s certainly helps with brand building. The Nepean High School grad became the first-ever Canadian to win a World Championships super-g medal, doing so with a silver in 2015, while also earning World Cup gold and bronze medals that season.
Cook recently finished up a decent comeback year from his first major injury with a giant slalom silver medal at the Canadian Championship on Mar. 25 in Mont-Tremblant.
“I was happy to do that in Quebec, with a really good crowd,” signals the Mont-Ste-Marie product who missed the entire 2015-2016 season following reconstructive surgery to repair his torn ACL knee ligament.
“To be honest, I never, ever think about the injury unless I'm asked about it. It's been a textbook recovery,” Cook adds. “More than anything, it's just the time off that might have hurt, when I had a few DNFs.”
After solid 13th, 6th and 23rd-place performances in December World Cup races, the did-not-finish results took over, with a string of three in a row to start 2017. Cook failed to crack the World Cup top-30 in 2017, dropping his ranking to #18 in the world from #5 at the conclusion of 2014-2015 season in his signature super-g event.
Nevertheless, it’s better to miss a year and take another to get back into form in the middle of the Olympic quadrennial than at the end for Cook, poised to make his debut at the five-ring circus come PyeongChang 2018.
“Going into an Olympic year, you think about it, but the big focus is on every race,” signals the Ottawa Sports Awards 2015 male athlete of the year. “If it is the Olympics, you just have to treat it normal and look at it as another race.”
Dustin Cook Run debuts
A major highlight of Cook’s season came outside of any of his races when his childhood home hill named its signature run in his honour.
“It's huge. I never thought about it before it happened,” says Cook, whose Mont-Ste-Marie club spearheaded fundraising campaign of roughly $200,000 to widen the run that now bears his name to make it possible for the Ottawa region to host top-level international competitions.
“It's amazing,” Cook adds. “It speaks more to the club and its passion.”
Mont Ste-Marie played host to its first-ever Nor-Am Cup from March 17 to 20. Serving as a volunteer at that men’s event was Sierra Smith, the granddaughter of one of the ski club’s creators 50 years ago, Trevor Klotz.
Earlier this season, 16-year-old Smith took down university-level competitors in back-to-back giant slalom races on her home course.
That wasn’t the only success the Grade 11 Louis-Riel high school student found against more experienced rivals this season. In her first year in the under-19 division, Smith won the women’s downhill at the early-March U19 nationals in Nakiska, Alta.
“It’s always great to compete against older skiers, and a lot of skiers of a different calibre,” signals Smith, noting the opportunity to race a downhill event was big for her development (since most Eastern Canadian peaks can only offer slalom and GS courses).
Smith’s grandfather was a national team ski racer, while her mother Julie Klotz was a Calgary 1988 Olympian. She’s happy to carry on a proud family tradition, but doesn’t want to get too far ahead of herself with future projections.
“The natural goal for everyone is probably Olympics,” Smith notes. “But I'm hoping for another good year after this one and I'll see where it eventually takes me.”
Also at the junior nationals in Nakiska, Ottawa’s Hunter Watson was 2nd in the men’s slalom. The 17-year-old Camp Fortune athlete competed at the Nor-Am race at Mont-Ste-Marie as well, posting a top result of 42nd out of 100 entries.
West Carleton Secondary School grad Jared Schmidt has been selected to compete for Canada at the FIS Junior World Freestyle Championships in Italy. The National Capital Outaouais Ski Team product will compete in the ski cross race on Apr. 7.
His sister, meanwhile, was named a first-team all-star for the Carleton Ravens on the Quebec university ski circuit. Hannah Schmidt won 4 medals in 8 races this season.