In early December, Teegan Lowe stood at the start gate for the downhill course at Lake Louise Ski Resort in Alberta. Lowe was competing in a North American Cup event, but this course was designed for the best in the world — it was the site of one of the International Skiing Federation’s 2017-18 World Cup races.
As Lowe stared down the course, there were two things going through her head. One: I’m scared. Two: This is what I’m striving for.
“It’s always that mental game of getting over (the fear) and pushing out of the start gate,” Lowe recalled. “I’m sometimes terrified, I’m sometimes not. Going to the World Cup track was really intimidating for me.”
Lowe’s ability to overcome her fears is one of the reasons she’s able to entertain thoughts about competing on skiing’s biggest stage.
The Monroe High School senior is one of the best women’s skiers in the region. Her path has her spending much of the winter in Oregon, traveling across North America to compete, and even flying around the world to train. And it’s a path Lowe hopes eventually leads to the highest levels of the sport.
“My ultimate goal, obviously, is the national team,” Lowe said last week during a brief stop home in Monroe.
Lowe, who turned 18 just after Christmas, is spending the 2018-19 season largely racing in the Nor-Am Cup, one of three worldwide series (along with the Europa Cup and the Australian and New Zealand Cup) that are stepping stones to the World Cup circuit. Competing against skiers from around the world, including some who have raced in the Olympics and World Cup, she is currently tied for 49th in the Nor-Am Cup overall points standings, and she’s ranked 13th in the downhill. Regionally, Lowe is currently first in both the super G and giant slalom and second in downhill in the Pacific Northwest Ski Association women’s under-21 rankings.
This all comes one season after Lowe participated in her first U.S. Alpine Championships, where she finished 13th in super G, 18th in alpine combined, 25th in giant slalom and 33rd in slalom last March in Sun Valley, Idaho.
But Lowe’s success shouldn’t come as a surprise. She’s been on skis as long as she can remember. Lowe comes from a skiing family. Her father, Steve, has a racing background. Lowe was 3 when she first donned skis, and she was competing when she was 5.
“It was one of those things where she was younger than most, but she managed to make it,” Lowe’s mother, Anne, said of Lowe’s earliest competitions. “The one criteria there was she had to be able to load herself into the chairlift, and she was determined to make that goal.”
Lowe excelled in competitions from the beginning, and eventually caught the eye of the coaches with the Mount Bachelor Sports Education Foundation in Bend, Oregon. The past three winters Lowe has spent a big chunk of her season in Bend to train, doing much of her schoolwork online.
During a typical day in Bend, Lowe spends the morning tuning her skis, then hops in the van with the rest of the team and heads up the mountain for up to six hours. A training session consists of about 10 runs, with coaching and video taking place between runs.
“I think it’s helped my skiing a lot because I have that consistency of training five days a week with the same coaches,” Lowe said. “And there aren’t the variable weather conditions because Mount Bachelor is more consistent with its weather.”
It’s helped to the point where Lowe not only qualified for nationals last year, she won the super G gold medal at the Western Region Junior Championships last March at Schweitzer Mountain Resort in Idaho.
This offseason Lowe received an opportunity to travel for even more training. She was selected to take part in U.S. Ski and Snowboard’s Western Region Development Project, which took her to Chile in August and Italy in October.
But nationals remain an emotional high point for Lowe, as she had the chance to share it with her parents. Lowe’s parents aren’t always able to attend her races, but they accompanied her to Sun Valley and they all got a little choked up when they drove under the banner announcing the national championships.
“It’s really cool when your kids can excel at something and have passion for it,” Steve Lowe said. “That’s the big thing, she has passion for it. She was good at other sports (Lowe played soccer and volleyball before committing to skiing full-time) and she had a passion for them, but not the type of passion she has for skiing. It’s something she wanted to follow.”
Lowe is once again shooting for nationals, which take place on the East Coast this year. The U.S. Alpine Speed Championships (downhill and super G) are March 16-21 at Sugarloaf in Maine, and the U.S. Alpine Tech Championships (giant slalom and slalom) are March 23-26 in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire.
“My overall goal this season is to qualify for nationals and qualify for (the National Development Project),” Lowe said. “Hopefully I can do well at the lower-level races so I can step up even more.”
And perhaps one day that next step will be to the World Cup.
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