Many area residents are happy to see the snow go away this spring, but for one Canfield eighth-grader, the snow brought him a personal victory. Mack Mettille, an eighth-grader at CVMS, turned in his personal best in downhill skiing this season, nearly qualifying for a national event.
On Feb. 20, Mettille competed in the Ski Chalet Downhill Ski Race at Peek’n Peak Ski Resort in New York state. As a member of the Peek’n Peak Junior Ski Team, the Canfield athlete set a personal best of 31.49 seconds to capture third. He was just .05 seconds away from qualifying for the nationals.
“This is his first season to ski in major competition,” said his aunt Donna Kaufman.
She said he began skiing at the age of six when his family would take to the slopes. Jill Newland, Mettille’s mother and his sister Alexis and brother Tyler all ski, making it easy for Mettille to get involved.
This season he turned competitive and actually began training with a coach once a week over a three-month period. Kaufman said he gained most of his skills at a camp that runs between Christmas and New Years. Still, downhill skiing means a lot more than just a month or so each year. It is a year-round commitment.
Kaufman said to keep in shape for skiing, Mettille takes long bike rides, many on trails. He also puts in cardio workouts and keeps limber by swimming. He realizes the commitment one needs to be part of a sports team.
“It takes a good coach, skill, hard work and lots of practice,” Kaufman said.
It also takes the right conditions. Mettille does his bets of powdery snow, or packed powder which along with icy snow are Mettille’s favorite. Warmer temperatures bring sloppy slopes that can slow a skier down.
As for the future, Mettille’s coaches are trying to encourage him to try out for the Olympic Team in the Giant Slalom, but he still has plenty of time to perfect his skills.
“They feel he would be very successful,” Kaufman said.
For now, it will be back to summer conditioning and preparing for the next season and a possible trip to the nationals. He will bring with him the memories of this season, knowing he has what it takes to make it to the top, or in his case, to the bottom of the slope.
“We are very proud of the effort, self confidence and skills that Mack has displayed this past winter,” Kaufman said.