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The tip of the iceberg

Fifteen-year-old Maya MacIsaac-Jones has quickly become a force to be reckoned with in the sport of cross-country skiing after an impressive season last year.

Fifteen-year-old Maya MacIsaac-Jones has quickly become a force to be reckoned with in the sport of cross-country skiing after an impressive season last year.

With three top 5 finishes, including a first, third and fifth-place finish, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if her name continues to show up this ski season.

“Last year was a really good year, but this season I feel even stronger,” she said.

In her most recent race, MacIsaac-Jones visited the outskirts of Vernon, B.C. for a race in Sovereign Lakes, where the Athabascan finished in third spot in the junior division races held Dec. 13.

“It was really good. The races were all really competitive,” explained MacIsaac-Jones

Prior to this race, MacIsaac-Jones competed in two separate races at a meet in Canmore at the beginning of the month.

She placed eighth for the open category in the final skate sprint race, which means she was competing against women of all ages and skills. She finished fifth in qualifying for the race.

In the classic distance, which is a longer course than the sprint, MacIsaac-Jones finished fifth in the open category and first in the junior race. With her impressive top 10 finishes against seasoned racers and first place in the junior category, MacIsaac-Jones was able to qualify for a spot on Team Alberta for the Canada Winter Games, set to go in Halifax from Feb. 11-27.

The impressive start to the season’s first races should only mean more top finishes for MacIsaac-Jones as the New Year approaches.

“I’m really happy with my results so far. They were great races and I’m really looking forward to see how I’m going to do as the year goes along,” she added.

The focused and dedicated cross-country skier put in countless hours of training over the past spring, summer, fall and early winter to become stronger in not only her conditioning, but also the technical side of the sport.

“This year I’m aiming for 5,500 hours of training, and I did the bulk of that in the off-season. Most of that took place in the spring and summer with more of the intense sessions here in the fall and early winter,” added MacIsaac-Jones.

Being so dedicated at such a young age speaks volumes to MacIsaac-Jones’ character, but all the hours of hard work, intense workouts and the balancing of different aspects of her life is worth it for the sport she loves.

“I need to be very efficient with my school work and training, but because I love what I’m doing … I have so much fun while I’m doing it, and that provides me with plenty of motivation to keep on going,” exclaimed MacIsaac-Jones.

For a cross-country skier who spends countless hours training in the offseason when it seems the new season is so far away, letdowns are very possible. But according to MacIsaac-Jones, it’s all about knowing everything pays off in the end.

“It’s about remembering that while I’m training in the spring and summer months, even when it seems it’s not going to make a difference, what I do then will affect how my races go later on in the year,” explained MacIsaac-Jones.

As MacIsaac-Jones’ cross-country career continues to bud as she gets older, taking a step back to reminisce on how much she has accomplished against racers five, six, seven years and older shows how bright a future she will have.

“There are other girls who are doing really well, but it’s pretty neat being able to race against them,” said MacIsaac-Jones.

There is always the intimidation factor of racing against seasoned racers, but that’s where MacIsaac-Jones’ mental preparation before race day comes in.

“Mainly it’s pretty exciting to have the opportunity to race against them. I spend a lot of time preparing mentally prior to the races, because that’s the biggest difference between training and race day,” she explained.

The physical and mental exertion of any cross-country athlete is seen on each and every one of their faces after a race, but that’s what MacIsaac-Jones loves about the sport.

“Everything about the sport is such a challenge. Can you get to the top of the hill? Can you push yourself and get a really good descent?

“Every race is a chance to see how much you have improved,” said MacIsaac-Jones.

The young skier will break for Christmas, but will be back out on the trails for the world junior trials beginning the week of Jan. 9 in Thunder Bay, Ont.


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