Q&A with OST’s Emma Williamson
By AOA Communication Manager, Kristin Ellis – August 12th, 2019.
This interview is part of a series of Q&As with members of the Ontario Ski Team. Emma is currently in her 2nd year with the OST and raced on the SOD Ski Team for one year prior to this. She is from the Alpine Ski Club and lives in Ancaster.
AOA: A year ago we chatted at the gym about your plans on the OST. You were quite sure you’d just do one year on the team and would be heading to U of T this coming fall. So, what changed and why?
EMMA: Well I did apply to U of T and Laurier and was accepted to both schools but around January last winter I realized that I couldn’t bear to stop skiing at this level just yet. It just didn’t feel right to me, I just wanted a bit more time. I felt I needed to explore my options and give myself the chance to fully commit to skiing for a year without the stresses of school.
AOA: Now here we are a year later and you are on a gap year. How did this go over at home? I know you have a twin (Ben who raced on the SOD Ski Team) who is off to McGill so I’m wondering how your parents felt about this?
EMMA: It took some convincing for sure! I explained to them that I wanted to dedicate myself to skiing for a year and see where it would take me. In the end, they supported me as they always have, and knowing that I’m working hard towards a goal also helped.
AOA: Did you defer or are you now looking to reapply?
EMMA: I did defer at Laurier for an Arts Program but this spring my new coach Cam Stephen talked to me a lot about skiing on the NCAA circuit. I had felt I could navigate a ski career while continuing my education here in Canada, but he has made me realize NCAA might be an option for me. So right now, I’m prepping for my SATS which I’ll write early October.
AOA: So, no summer job?
EMMA: Well that was the plan, but instead I’m studying for my SATS by taking a prep course, focusing on my dryland and the team has also been on snow twice for far this spring/summer.
AOA: Looking back on last year are you happy with your season?
EMMA: Yes, it was a big growing year for me and I learned so much, but a definite highlight for me was that I finally won a race! I had really never stood on the top of the podium before. And then once I won once, I won a few times…it was really great to get the reassurance that I really can do it.
AOA: Why do you think this happened?
EMMA: It was a great team dynamic last year, we all pushed each other.
AOA: Was Katie (Twible..OST women’s head coach last year) a big factor? That must have been hard to see her go.
EMMA: Yes, Katie was such an amazing coach and she helped me ski better and accomplish things I never had before. When Katie told me the news that she got an amazing opportunity with the US Ski Team, I was so happy for her, but I also cried. I guess I felt a bit of fear losing her…when you lose a great coach you think you have to start over and question if you want to do that but now that I look back I realize a new coach isn’t a bad thing. We’re all really enjoying working with Cam (Stephen) so really there was no reason for me to be worried.
AOA: What are your goals this year?
EMMA: NCAA is the end goal but hitting the top 30 in Nor-Ams in both SL and GS would be great. I’d also like to get back in the mix in SG. I also really want to keep working on my confidence so it’s more a mindset than an actual result that I’m looking to get.
AOA: Is confidence an issue?
EMMA: It would be my weakness for sure. I just need to know that I can do it. I can overthink things and that feeds into my nerves.
AOA: What would your strength be?
EMMA: Probably my drive and determined attitude towards skiing. But I also just really love this sport. Ski racing has a lot of ups and downs- if you’re at a race series and three or even four of those race days were really difficult and not what you wanted, and you can still come out of it loving the sport – that’s really all that matters.
AOA: Katie used to rave about what a hard worker you are, and I’ve seen how focused you are in the CSIO gym. Is the CSIO program a big help to the Team?
EMMA: Yes absolutely, it has really ramped up the entire OST. We go in there and see Olympians and are surrounded by like-minded athletes who are representing Canada. It is so motivating for us. It makes me want to be better. It’s great to see my CSIO results and know that I’m getting stronger, and what I do in the gym also helps me become more confident on snow too.
AOA: Who else is supporting you? I’m guessing your parents.
EMMA: Yes, they are super supportive. They are the same parents whether I win or I’m 4 seconds back, and I’m so grateful to have that in my life. And they let me take a gap year to ski so that’s pretty amazing!
Learn more about the Ontario Ski Team here>