Q&A with OST Athlete Sam Duff

JULY 18TH, 2019

Sam Duff is currently ranked 1st in Canada in SL for his age and is the 4th overall Jr. in SL. He is entering his 3rd year on the Ontario Ski Team and is from Pembroke, ON and the Calabogie Ski Racing Club.

AOA caught up with Sam upon his return from Wittenburg, Germany to talk about indoor skiing.


AOA: Indoor skiing seems like an odd choice when skiers generally love being outside. What did you think of it?
SAM: Well it’s very different of course. It is not the excitement of a big mountain like visiting Mammoth or Whistler but is perfect for specific drill development, which, in July, is what we are all working on.
The beauty of this facility is the course is right there…you get off the chairlift and you step immediately onto a course. This allows us to fit in a high volume. It is a short course (25seconds or so) but it is perfect for identifying what you need to be working on. The snow is injected so it’s unforgiving, it is not easy to ski if you have a major weakness. It forces your technique to come out – you can’t hide is I guess what I’m trying to say. Your bad technique comes out so you can then work on fixing it.

AOA: This is your 3rd year on the OST, why are you not off to College or University like many of your peers?
SAM: Well if I combined school with skiing, I’d have less time to focus on my skiing. Right now, I want to focus on the sport. I also love our coaches – Cam (McKenzie) and Kip are an amazing team, there’s no other coaching staff I’d rather be with. They are the best coaches I’ve had in my life.

AOA: So, what are your goals this year?
SAM: Nor-Ams are my focus. I should be hitting the top 15 in SL events and in GS I’m looking to make some 2nd runs.

AOA: We see you on the river a ton in your social media posts @sammyduff1234 – how does Whitewater kayaking fit in these days?
SAM: It’s still my main summer sport. Right now, I’m working with a Whitewater camp teaching kids but I’m also always out on the river practising. I hope to attend the Team Canada Time Trials for Worlds in 2021. I attended the 2017 World Championships in Argentina as a junior.

AOA: How do you manage to stay so competitive in two sports?
SAM: Kayaking is different than skiing in that I can keep up with my skills and unlike skiing doesn’t mean I have to always be competing to make Team Canada. Skiing is harder to reach the top level since you have to travel a lot, and you travel all year round.

AOA: Do your kayaking friends compare with your ski friends? By that I mean are they similarly “committed”?
SAM: Yes, for sure, they are the same sort of people, I guess. Everyone is super active and committed to what they do – whether it’s on snow or the water.

AOA: What’s your biggest challenge as a ski racer?
SAM: Without a doubt, it’s the commitment. It’s a different sport than say hockey which is everywhere and easier to do all the time. We have hockey rinks in every single town here in Canada. Skiing means chasing the snow, which is amazing, but we miss out on all the normal stuff.

AOA: What is your biggest strength as a ski racer?
SAM: I guess it’s my mindset. If I feel like I can do it, I dive right in and I do it.

LAST WORDS? For sure skiing takes a lot of time, practice and hard work but hey it’s no fun being normal, right?