Cultus Lake’s Reece Howden flies through the air during a World Cup ski-cross event at the Blue Mountain Resort in Ontario. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Cultus Lake’s Reece Howden flashes potential on World Cup ski-cross circuit

Howden went toe-to-toe with athletes far older than he in several international events this season.

Lake native Reece Howden has enjoyed another outstanding season on the ski-cross circuit, including his first trip to world championships.

The 20 year old is a strong alpine skier who was named to Canada’s national ski-cross team three years ago.

Howden’s first big event this season was a Dec. 17 World Cup race in Arosa, Switzerland. Howden was third after qualifying and finished 19th in the end.

He was the second youngest skier in the top 20. The winner, Switzerland’s Jonas Lenherr, is 29 years old.

“I was extremely happy with my finish, as my goal starting on the World Cup circuit was to qualify (top 32) to advance to the heats,” Howden said.

The local had one more race weekend (Dec. 21-22) before Christmas, traveling to Innichen, Italy.

He finished 17th on day one.

However the second race was a personal best for Howden and a highlight to his season.

He finished fifth overall and won his first career small final, beating 32 year old Canadian teammate Brady Leman, a 2018 Olympic gold medalist, along with veteran racers from Austria and Italy.

“The first two races in Arosa and Innichen were just big learning experiences for me. I was just trying to take away as much as I could,” he said. “I was qualifying top 10 in every race but needed to step it up in the heats.

“I let myself get confident and was a little more aggressive in heats, and it turned out really well! I was making passes and was confident on my skis.”

Howden returned to action Jan. 26, racing at the Blue Mountain Resort in Ontario.

Howden advanced through the heats to another small final where he faced 30 year old Canadian teammate Kevin Drury. This time the veteran won. Drury finished fifth overall while Howden settled for seventh.

Then, on to the biggest race of his career.

The 2019 World Championships were held under blue skies in Solitude, Utah.

Howden finished fifth in qualifying, but he finished third in his first heat, where the top two advanced to finals. Howden placed 17th overall.

“It was a great experience,” he said. “I’m always learning from watching my videos after the races to take to the next event.”

Howden continues to build an impressive resume as he targets the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China.

See alpinecanada.org/team/reece-howden

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