Marcus MacDonald barely had time to unpack.
After competing during the opening week of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer late last month, the Antigonish freestyle skier is returning to Alberta for the Canadian Junior Championship Series in Calgary.
“I am focused on having the best performance that I can,” the 15-year-old told the Casket during an interview in between those athletic adventures.
After a couple training days on the slopes at Canada Olympic Park, the Grade 10 student at Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional High School described it as time “to get dialed in” for competition, which is scheduled for March 8 to 10.
“I saw people hitting those jumps and I wanted to do it,” Marcus said of seeing freestyle skiers at Ski Wentworth, while reflecting on what sparked his passion for the sport.
Marcus and his family had already been fixtures at the resort, one nestled in the Cobequid Hills of Nova Scotia.
The teenager strapped on skis, for the first time, at the age of six, with his family spending most weekends and holidays on the slopes. They now have a vacation spot nearby, which has cut down on the wintry drives from Antigonish.
After beginning with downhill skiing, Marcus made the switch to snowboarding before turning his focus to freestyle as a 10-year-old.
Two years later, he was on the top of the podium, winning gold in his first provincial competition.
“It felt great,” Marcus said, agreeing that accomplishment further solidified his already growing passion for the sport.
Slopestyle is his favourite discipline “because of the jumps and the rails.”
He strapped on his skis in that discipline, along with big air and half pipe during the Canada Games.
“It was really awesome,” Marcus said of his opportunity to represent his province on the national stage.
Along with having the chance to compete, of course, he enjoyed meeting different athletes from different sports from across the country.
“It was pretty cool,” Marcus said of the opening ceremonies.
He noted the facilities at Red Deer College, which offered quick and easy access to venues and a variety of activities, were “awesome.”
Marcus also shared the Games’ experience with his parents – A.G. and Colette.
“It was a nice course,” he said of the Canyon Ski Resort venue.
Marcus garnered 13th place in big air, his best result for the Games.
“That was disappointing,” he noted, because he narrowly missed making the top-12 and qualifying for the final.
As for his 15th in slopestyle, Marcus said “I could have done better.”
In the half pipe, he finished in 14th place.
“Overall, it was an incredible experience,” Marcus said.
Freestyle skiing, whether or not there is snow, is a year-round commitment for Marcus.
After returning from junior nationals, there will be a competition in Quebec at the end of March, along with an annual week-long training session in Whistler, B.C.
When there isn’t white stuff on the ground, dry slope training sessions continue at Ski Wentworth, along with visits to Maximise, a state-of-the-art facility located northwest of Montreal.
There are also weight training and fitness sessions at St. F.X.
“I want to get as good as I can and see where it takes me,” Marcus said of his commitment to the sport.
His next goal is working towards earning a spot with Freestyle Canada’s NextGen initiative, which selects young and promising athletes, each season, to compete on the North American circuit and in select World Cup events.