By Brianne Smith
As Freestyle skier Kye Guembes runs through her routine moments before she leaves the gate, it’s almost for certain that she’s listening to Paradise City by Guns and Roses.
“My heart is racing, and I’m going over what I’m going to do step by step in my head, and thinking of everything, making sure I have it all planned out,” says Guembes.
For as long as she can remember, skiing has been a centrepiece in her life. Some of her earliest memories come from trips to Banff’s Sunshine Village, where, nestled comfortably in-between one of her parents’ legs, she would snowplough her way down the hill.
When asked if she knew from a young age if skiing was the sport for her, Guembes replies, “Always – it’s always been my dream”.
Her parents, Julie Steggall and Rafael Guembes, are prominent names in the freestyle ski world. Her father has been coaching freestyle skiing since 1991 and now acts as one of his daughter’s coaches for the Calabogie Peaks Freestyle Club. Her mom competed at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics for freestyle skiing and now works as the director of high performance athlete development for Freestyle Canada.
“I’m so proud of her,” Steggall says. “She’s got a high attention to details, so anything technical or complicated she’s always excelled at. … It’s exciting, I love watching my kid grow up being part of the sport.”
At 15 years old, Guembes is already making a name for herself in the freestyle ski community. A member of the Calabogie Peaks Freestyle team since she was 10, she’s been moving up the ranks in competitions ever since.
“It’s exciting, just seeing her go through the sport in every sense, watch her go through the highs, lows, and mediums and just see her enjoy every second of it,” said her dad.
Freestyle skiing is a discipline of skiing comprising of moguls, halfpipe, ski cross, aerials and slopestyle. Currently in moguls, Guembes favourite discipline to compete in, she performs back-tucks and spread eagles in competition is working on adding a 360 to her routine in the near future.
She described the first time she tried moguls as a terrifying, yet exhilarating experience.
“It was pretty scary, I was snowploughing the entire time, but I loved it. Once I had gone down, it was scary, but once I was at the bottom I was like, ‘I need to keep doing this.’ I loved it.”
From Feb. 2 to Feb. 3, Guembes competed in the annual Timber Tour competition at Caledon Ski Club, where she won 1st place both days in her mogul runs. During the competition she was also recognized as the K2 Skis “Standout Female of the Week” for her outstanding sportsmanship and exemplary talent as a female athlete.
Myles Adam is the head coach for the Calabogie Peaks Freestyle Club and has coached Guembes for close to 5 years.
“Kye’s really neat in the fact that she’s very headstrong, so when she sets her sights on a goal she’s going to get to that goal,” Adams said. “It might take a lot of hard work and perseverance but she’s got the willpower and determination to work through it.”
In addition to competitive freestyle skiing, Guembes also regularly attends Jujitsu and Muay Thai classes at Cooligan Martial Arts, where she holds a black belt. She also enjoys rock climbing and playing guitar.
She’ll be competing in moguls beginning on Feb. 18 at the Canada Winter Games.
When asked about her goals leading into the Games in Red Deer, Alta., Guembes said: “I just want to have more of a clean run, not get too stressed. I want to get a good run down and be happy with it.”
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Julie Steggall worked at Calabogie Peaks. The Sportspage apologizes for this error.