Olympic hopes bring out best in skier

Hunter Visser strives to improve on successful season on AFP

Hunter Visser had an outstanding season with the B.C. Half Pipe and Slopestyle team. The work Visser has put in has him on the radar for the Canadian national team.

Hunter Visser had an outstanding season with the B.C. Half Pipe and Slopestyle team. The work Visser has put in has him on the radar for the Canadian national team.

Four top-20 finishes during the 2011-12 halfpipe and slopestyle season left Hunter Visser feeling good.

“I was competing in some higher level events this year,” said Visser, whose best result was winning the Gatorade Freeflow tour qualifier, then placing second in the finals. “I wasn’t hitting the top podium spots but my goal was to make top-20. I was kind of around there all year. I had lots of fun this year.”

Having completed his third season on the A-squad of the B.C. team, the 17-year-old is more confident heading into competitions on the Association of Freeskiing Professionals, which he credits to experience.

Visser, a Penticton resident, focused himself with improving his ability to spin. The importance of that is it adds diversity to tricks, which skiers are judged on. Coach Mike Shaw has been a big help to Visser, as he has pushed the youngster to where he is now.

Wade Garrod, executive director of B.C. Freestyle, said Visser had an amazing season. The highlight was him placing eighth during the AFP World Championship Superpipe Finals. Garrod saw growth, and said a key to Visser’s season was taking advantage of every training opportunity.

“His work ethic and his natural skill has improved,” said Garrod. “If he can get more results like that next year, he can position himself for a national team spot and possibly the Sochi Olympics. He really got focused on halfpipe once he learned it became an Olympic sport.”

While Shaw has done a lot to help his improvement, Visser hasn’t forgotten what coaches with the Apex Freestyle Club did.

“Just lots of training on the jumps when I was a kid,” he said. “Always had a coach pushing me to learn new techniques and tricks. It seems quite a few years ago now.”

Among his favourite memories from Apex Mountain is spending time hitting the aerial site and building jumps.

“Must have moved I don’t know how much snow,” he joked.

Now he is making new memories travelling North America with the B.C. team, going to what he describes as “all the best resorts.”  He has been to Colorado, Whistler, Park City, Utah and California. His favourite destination is Breckenridge, Colo., and Whistler.

His goal next season is to improve results in AFP. To make that happen, Visser plans to do dryland training and go to New Zealand in August and train during their winter.