With the international race season over, Pemberton's Jenna Spencer is turning her attention to one thing: homework.
The 17-year-old rising luge star placed 16th at the Junior World Championships in Igls, Austria last weekend (Jan. 31 - Feb. 1) after a week of training events in Germany. "I was really excited that I was going to be in Igls," she said, a few days after returning. "I've always had a great time in Igls. Runs for me there have been quite consistent. There was a lot of competition and older girls."
Although it was Spencer's third year on the Junior World Cup tour, this season marked her first racing at the Junior Women level, an age category up from Youth A Women. Overall, she said, she has mixed feelings about the season.
"I felt like I didn't make as much progress as I wanted to, but, at the same time, I couldn't expect much because we had limited coaches and track time," she said. "I got the best out of what I was getting."
While the international season has wrapped up, the national season still has a few races left, including the Youth Nationals in Calgary Feb. 18. For now, Spencer said, she's looking forward to next year and hitting the gym over the summer. "I felt like I set goals, I met those goals, but I wanted to meet them in a better way," she added.
With her sled still en route to Canada, she had to sit out the BC Cup races at home in Whistler last weekend. "I'm not too upset," she said. "I had lots of homework to catch up on this weekend. I have to do a big biology exam."
Reid Watts, a 14-year-old Whistlerite who joined the Canadian Junior National Luge team this year, also welcomed the break with his sled similarly in transit. "In Europe, we were sliding every day," he said. "It was really awesome trying out new tracks."
His first time competing overseas, Watts came in 20th in Austria, a placing he was satisfied with. "I was racing some people who were 19 years old," he said. "I was really happy to make it into the top 20."
The experience of sliding in both Austria and on several German tracks also gave him perspective. "The German tracks had a lot of G-force in the corners, so that was lots of fun. The one in Austria was a lot of fun, but easier. It makes me feel lucky we have such great ice over here," he said.
So far, this winter has bestowed him with more confidence and made him stronger at his sport, Watts said. "The season was my best by far," he added. "I gained a lot more weight and got stronger and gained more confidence in my sliding."
Other young Sea to Sky athletes travelled to Europe to compete as part of the B.C. Development Team, including Nicole Pidperyhora, Adam Shippit and Nicky Klimchuk-Brown.