Olivia Asselin perfectly embodies the mentality of extreme sports: go big or stay at home.
On January 8, the 16-year-old skier was in Kreichberg for the second Big Jump World Cup of her career. At the very end of the warm-up period, she noticed that her main rivals were all performing a “double cork 1260”, a maneuver learned a week before her departure for Austria, at the Maximise center in the Laurentians.
“Seeing the other girls, it made me want to take the big leap too,” said Asselin three days later from Calgary, where she is completing a training camp with the Canadian team.
By changing the initial plan at the last minute, she responded to the call of her trainer Gabriel Leclerc, who had asked her to approach the event as a foretaste of the Olympic Games in Beijing next winter.
“She made the decision that she wanted to be sure to rank with her big maneuver,” explained the coach. It is really the attitude that counts in a pre-Olympic year. By telling yourself that this is probably the maneuver that will get you classified for the Olympics. Why not try it out right away in competition? ”
Fourth after her first jump, a “switch 1080”, another improvement over last season, Asselin landed poorly in her next two tries with the 1260. She therefore finished 10e, missing the final reserved for the first six by less than 15 points.
I had more height than usual. I think this is one of the reasons I fell. I was angry, I was going too fast …
She had no regrets except for a small pang in her heart; her jump in practice, she had succeeded.
This fighting attitude corresponds to the portrait drawn by his coach.
Coming from the Stoneham Freestyle Ski Club, Asselin was 12 when Leclerc first met her. A bachelor’s student in sports intervention at Laval University, for several years he had organized a summer slopestyle camp on a water ramp in Lac-Beauport, as part of an academic project.
Quickly, he realized that the teenager, one of the few in a predominantly male group, was not like the others.
“She still had a good base in skiing. It was quite easy to train him. She was learning very quickly. It was mostly that she liked it. She was passionate about boutte. It’s pretty rare to see that from a girl. I emphasize this because there aren’t many in sport. She watches the guys jump and she is able to identify all the stuff. That too is quite rare. ”
Canadian junior champion at 14, in all three disciplines (big jump, slopestyle, halfpipe), Asselin returned to Leclerc in 2018, who in the meantime became head coach of the Canadian NextGen team. On paper, however, she did not have the necessary results to join the group. Talent and attitude prevailed.
In competition, Olivia was trying to do more all the time. Often, that made him lose points and slide in the standings. But it kind of proves that she’s a winner. Go all out, it’s very important. More than a girl who wins, but who is conservative.
Gabriel Leclerc, trainer of Olivia Asselin
Sixth in the big jump at the 2019 World Juniors, the native of Lévis entered the World Cup circuit last season. In six starts so far, she has finished five in the top 10, including a slopestyle final in Calgary in February (7e).
With Ontarian Megan Oldham, 19 and winner of the big jump at the X Games in Norway in March, Asselin is already among the candidates for selection for the Beijing Olympics. She will come of age four days after the closing ceremony …
“It’s a goal for me, but I’m not putting too much pressure on myself with it. I know I still have plenty of time. I am only 16 years old. It’s not like these are the only Games I will be able to do in my life. ”
Since the fall, she has continued her 5e secondary school at the Académie les Estacades in Trois-Rivières, a sports-study program given entirely at a distance. “I do my lessons on my own. We have teachers that we can text to ask them questions and to take our exams. ”
At the time of the interview, Asselin had expected his next competition to be the World Championships in Calgary in early March. The event was finally canceled due to the health context. These changes in the calendar do not bother him too much, even if they risk complicating his task for an Olympic selection. She wants to take the opportunity to perfect her stuff and breathe a little.
“Sometimes I see my friends from school. I would love to be with them, have my teenage years, my prom. But I love my life. It’s fun, I travel, I have the chance to do that at my age. It’s not a challenge, more the way I live. ”
Olivia Asselin in brief
Age: 16 years old
Specialty: high jump and slopestyle
7e in Calgary slopestyle (February 2020)
8e in big jump Modena (March 2019)
2019 World Junior Championships
6e in big leap
17e in slopestyle
Canadian Junior Champion (under 18) to 14