CALGARY (December 22, 2023) - Alpine Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee have announced Canada’s alpine, and ski cross team selected to compete at the Gangwon 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games.
The Team Canada alpine and ski cross team for the Gangwon 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) is:
Athletes - Alpine
Thomas Carnahan (Ottawa, QC)
Sierra Coe (Canmore, AB)
Aida Draghia (Châteauguay, QC)
Athletes - Ski Cross
William 'Kael' Johnston (Calgary, AB)
Anne-Marie Joncas (Whistler, B.C.)
Cole Merrett (Calgary, AB)
Kael Oberlander (Big White, B.C.)
The selection process for Team Canada's alpine skiers was based on their performances during the 2022 – 2023 season. Alpine Canada selected the top male and female athletes registered with the International Ski Federation (FIS) according to the 2024 FIS base list. Athletes were nominated based on the sum of their two best world rankings in their age group or younger, with the requirement that at least one of these rankings be in a technical skiing discipline, such as Slalom (SL) or Giant Slalom (GS).
The ski cross athletes were selected based on their performances and ranking during a selection camp and competition in Nakiska, Alberta earlier in December.
Sierra Coe, who learned to ski at two years old and was racing in her first competitions at four years old, won three FIS medals in 2023, including a gold medal in slalom from the Burke Mountain FIS event in February. Coe looks to Canadian ski racer Kris Mahler as a role model and cites that the idea of wearing the Canadian flag on her back while racing always has her in awe.
“I am honoured to have the opportunity to represent Canada at the Youth Olympic Games,” said Coe. “I am really looking forward to taking this step in my skiing career and I can’t wait to see what Team Canada brings to the table across all sports.”
Thomas Carnahan, 2022 U16 slalom national champion, earned a gold medal in slalom last weekend at the FIS event in Val St-Come. Aida Draghia, niece of Bogdan Mihailescu, a Romanian Olympian in water polo, who has had to overcome the tragic loss of her former coach last September, is proud of her perseverance to push through and qualify for the Youth Olympic Games.
“Congratulations to the dedicated athletes nominated to represent Team Canada at Gangwon 2024," said Jenni Stielow, Alpine Excel Program & Pathway Manager at Alpine Canada. "This marks an exciting chapter for our young athletes as they embark on their journey to the Youth Olympic Games. Their remarkable spirit, brimming with youthful energy and limitless potential, is a testament to their skill and a source of hope and inspiration for every aspiring young dreamer. Their commitment and enthusiasm in chasing their dreams are nothing short of inspiring. Let's wholeheartedly support them as they stride toward excellence."
Watching the Olympic Games on television sparked Cole Merrett's dream of someday skiing for Canada. The 16-year-old competed at the 2023 Canada Winter Games in ski cross as well as three alpine events, which he cites as his sporting achievement that he is currently most proud of, aside from qualifying for the Youth Olympic Games.
“After being invited to the selection camp to try and qualify for the Youth Olympic Games, I was over the moon with the opportunity to compete for a spot,” said Merrett. “I was very fortunate to come out on top both days which meant that I had been selected to represent Canada. Words cannot describe how I felt in that moment that I realized I had qualified to compete as I was filled with joy and happiness. I can’t wait for the Youth Olympics; it’s going to be amazing. Go Canada!”
For all four athletes, Gangwon 2024 will represent their first overseas international competition in ski cross.
“Congratulations to all the athletes that have successfully qualified for the Youth Olympic Games,” said Dave Ellis, Director of High-Performance Ski Cross at Alpine Canada. “This event serves as an early introduction to the discipline of ski cross and we hope the selected athletes will continue to develop strong performance attributes across all alpine racing disciplines in the coming years. Wishing the team representing Canada at the YOG the best of luck and enjoyment with this first international ski cross experience!”
Team Canada has participated in both alpine and ski cross in all three previous editions of the Winter Youth Olympic Games. Roni Remme won silver at Innsbruck 2012 and Ali Nullmeyer won silver at Lillehammer 2016 – both in the women's slalom event. Three Youth Olympic alpine skiers have been converted into Olympians – Remme, who competed at both PyeongChang 2018 and Beijing 2022, Nullmeyer – who competed at Beijing 2022, and Amelia Smart who competed at both Lillehammer 2016 and Beijing 2022.
In ski cross, Team Canada has won two Youth Olympic medals - a bronze from Matty Herauf at Innsbruck 2012 and a gold from Reece Howden at Lillehammer 2016. To date, two Canadian Youth Olympic ski cross athletes have been converted into Olympians – India Sherret who competed at Innsbruck 2012 and became an Olympian at PyeongChang 2018, as well as Howden, who became an Olympian at Beijing 2022.
Alpine skiing will take place January 21 to 26 (Days 2 to 7) at the Jeongseon High 1 Ski Resort. Ski cross will take place January 23 and 24 (Days 4 and 5) at the Welli Hilli Park Ski Resort.
"Congratulations to these seven skiers named to Team Canada for the Youth Olympic Games," said Lisa Weagle, Team Canada's Gangwon 2024 Chef de Mission. "Team Canada has had great success at the Youth Olympic Games in both alpine and ski cross, and many of the Youth Olympic skiers have grown into Olympians. I hope that Gangwon 2024 continues the tradition for these young athletes and can be used as an excellent development opportunity in their ski careers."
Team Canada's alpine and ski cross alternate athletes, coaches and support staff for the Gangwon 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games are:
Thomas Cais (Field, B.C.) - Alternate Athlete (Non-Traveling)
Spencer Zuck (Edmonton, AB) - Alternate Athlete (Non-Traveling)
Eve Michaud (Edmundston, N.B.) - Alternate Athlete (Non-Traveling)
Abby Garnsey (Calgary, AB)- Alternate Athlete (Non-Traveling)
Elsa Feliciello (Piedmont, QC) - Alternate Athlete (Non-Traveling)
William Foster (Toronto, ON) - Alternate Athlete (Non-Traveling)
Kyle Darling (East Burke, Vermont, USA) - Coach, Alpine
Doug Williams (Warren, Vermont, USA) - Coach, Alpine
Kya Fairley (Onoway, AB) - Coach, Ski Cross
Zachary Flynn (Winchester, ON) - Technician
Jenni Stielow (Canmore, AB) - Team Leader
The Youth Olympic Games (YOG) are the world’s largest multi-sport event for high-performance young athletes aged 15 – 18. Gangwon 2024 will begin on January 19 and will end on February 1, 2024, and will feature 1900 athletes. Gangwon 2024 will be the fourth edition of the Winter YOG and the first in Asia. It will have a fully gender-balanced sporting program, and will feature seven sports, 15 disciplines, and a total of 81 events.
Prior to being named to Team Canada, all nominations are subject to approval by the Canadian Olympic Committee’s Team Selection Committee following its receipt of nominations by all National Sport Organisations.
The latest Team Canada Gangwon 2024 roster can be found here, and additional press resources can be found here.
Mark Halliday, Director, Brand & Communications
Tara MacBournie, Team Canada Gangwon 2024 Communications Lead
Canadian Olympic Committee