What does it take to excel at a sport? Not just do well, but really reach the top? For 14-year-old Woolwich resident Abby Byers, it’s nothing short of a tremendous amount of focus and discipline.
The young athlete approaches her passion in alpine skiing with a sharp determination that this year saw her come first in the giant slalom at the U14 provincials.
But for Byers, winning at the provincial level was just one more step in her climb to the top. Her mother recalls how, right from the get-go, Byers was aiming for the top: Team Ontario.
“She said to me, ‘I think I’m going to make the Can-Am team.’ She says, ‘I’m going to qualify for Team Ontario this year,’” recalls Shannon Byers. And young Abby did just that.
Byers was one of 15 girls to join the U14 Team Ontario this year and go to the Can-Am games at Sugarloaf, Maine. Unfortunately, during her race, Byers fell; but despite the setback, she remained positive.
“We still have Whistler Cup,” she said. Out of 140 girls at Whistler, Byers ranked 7th in slalom, 9th in the dual slalom.
“I fell in GS (giant slalom), but I still came 21st,” she said.
“She fell, and you could see the snow going and I’m like, ‘oh no!’” recalls her mother. “But she popped herself back up and she finished the race.” That qualified Byers for the second run.
“It’s so fun,” she said with a laugh. For her, though, even joining Team Ontario and representing the province is but one more step in her journey. Ideally, says Byers, the Olympics is where she would like to see herself. And with her incredible work ethic, she really might make it.
A future skiing Olympian, Byers might very well be, but the young athlete will to see how far she really wants to go to reach that goal.
“I think Abby’s got some tough choices to make when she gets older because she loves skiing, but she’s just such a track and field athlete too,” said her mother. “I remember when Abby was about 8 years old, it was funny because she grew up skiing in Chicopee … and they had said, why doesn’t Abby come out and do dry-land training in the fall, and she was by far one of the youngest kids.”
Shannon was worried, so she asked her daughter if she was sure she sure she wanted to go. “And she looked and she goes, ‘Mum, I was born to ski.’”