Back home in British Columbia after spending the winter in Europe making his sport’s history, Reese Hodden is still struggling to achieve what he has achieved. At only twenty-two years old, he was at the pinnacle of his discipline and exploits already reverberating outside the world of cross-skating.
“Unprecedented”. That’s how Victor Ducal, national team coach, described Houdin’s season, which ended with a Crystal Globe and FIS Rookie of the Year. With six podiums, including four victories, in 12 races on the World Cup circuit, he was able to climb to the top of the overall standings.
Although Howden has competed in a few World Cup races before with the Canadian team, he was in his first full-time year in the ring. Native of Lake Cultus was the hardest-to-beat skater last season.
Even if he scored his first win only in the fourth leg of the season, in Val Turin, France, he followed very quickly and the year 2021 was very successful. At the start of winter, Howden was just a novice eager to learn and today he rules the cross-country skiing world.
“It took a long time to realize and absorb all of this, especially since with a pandemic, it’s hard to be able to fully celebrate, but now that I think about it, it’s unbelievable!” And Asr, who must restrict himself at home, has been placed under mandatory quarantine. “I always try to go one race at a time, so it’s rare to give myself the time to take a step back. I didn’t think about my season and what I had just achieved until after my last race, and I was happy with the goods delivered.”
Howden’s dominance this season was so much that he didn’t even have to finish the podium in the final event of the season, in Switzerland, after he had already secured the Crystal Globe in Georgia a month later.
Even if it is clear that every athlete wants victory, Al Kindi remains very honest in the face of the goals he and his team put up for themselves at the start of the season, which also explains why the title of champion came so often for him. More exceptional. The main goal this season was to reach at least the semi-finals in both World Cups, which he failed to achieve even because he failed to qualify twice. Even if he takes these two warnings today with a grain of salt looking at the end result, the most important thing for him is to give himself the opportunity to be proud of his performance at the end of each race.
If one person is happy with the season Houden just went through, his manager is the one who praises him most. “I don’t think there is one reason behind Reese’s dominance. It’s a combination of several factors. It all starts with his personality, but there is also his sport, his excellent physical condition, his skills, his natural talent as a skater and his ability to perform at the right times.” In Alberta.
It was in Sweden that Howden gave his best performances and showed his talent, while at Idre Fjäll, in January, he won two of the three events in quick succession. He admits that in Scandinavia he felt that no longer just a beginner looking for experience, but the best skater in the world, he had a real chance to win every event. As if there was a before and after. According to Dockal, the two races in Sweden were crucial because in just 24 hours conditions changed dramatically and Howden was able to respond perfectly to the challenge. These two victories gave him a lot of confidence through the end of the calendar. Especially since the level was so high this year on the men’s side that made each win more and more difficult to achieve. The coach said all the athletes on the track had had the opportunity to climb onto the podium this season. So winning two races in several days under difficult circumstances says a lot about Howden’s qualities.
However, Hoden was the happiest in the penultimate round of the season in Russia, in Sonny Valley. “I already secured the Globe and wanted to finish the season well to make a good impression and was able to do that by winning the race.”
In addition, the results of the British Columbian allowed him to qualify for the Olympic Games in Beijing, which will be held in less than a year. Participation in the Games is clearly an extraordinary achievement, but even if everyone is still mired in uncertainty about the potential consequences of the health crisis, this Olympic qualification is less weighty for Houdin. He would be able to focus full-time on his World Cup performances between the start of the season and the Olympic period, without having to fight for his ticket to China.
Nice accident for the session
It is no secret that although skiing has many fans, cross skating is neither the most popular nor the most practiced sport. However, Howden was fortunate enough to grow in an environment where exercise is strongly encouraged and in an environment where cross-country skiing is possible.
Raised in a family of athletes and raised by parents who were passionate about skiing, Hoden found himself hitting the slopes at a young age. After he first developed into alpine skiing, it was just a coincidence that the ski cross entered his life.
“I fell in love with the sport a little by accident. I was downhill skiing and had the opportunity to try out the Canadian skating team at the Youth Olympics in 2016. I knew I couldn’t qualify for the downhill skiing games. Since I wasn’t fast enough for that. I tried to skate. I made the team and won the gold medal in the Youth Olympics. “
Canada has a rich history of cross-country skiing. The country has distinguished itself for several years and has even become a benchmark in this field.
Discipline first appeared at the Olympics in 2010, and it was at this point that young Reese, who was 12 years old, had his first contact with discipline. The games were held in the backyard of his Vancouver home, and he can still remember today that at that time watching this exciting and exciting sport in which skaters race against each other was a “colossal opening”.
Now, with his success, Howden could in turn inspire future athletes. He is at least in excellent shape to become the sixth Canadian to win an Olympic medal in figure skating after Ashley McIvor in Vancouver, Marielle Thompson and Kelsey Siroo in Sochi in 2014 as well as Brady Lyman, Brittany Phelan, and Kelsey Seroa, again, at the Pyeongchang Games in 2018. Howden is clearly the new face of the ski cross in Canada and he’s part of a series of heroes who have achieved great things and although he is still humble, the youngster would like to hear walking in their footsteps and being honored.
Obviously, at the age of 22, Howden was not one of the biggest builders of the sport that made him popular. However, he feels he owes those who have purified the earth before him. “These athletes have built and defined sport in Canada and around the world. I see my success as an opportunity to show what we can do in this sport and take it to the next level.”
Much more than just a great athlete
The world of Reece Howden is not limited to the world of cross-country skiing. Along with results, medals, and awards, he has succeeded in parallel with his sports career in becoming a good citizen and filling his toolbox for facing the future. Since Victor Ducal worked with Reese, he has seen an evolution not only in his performance on ice, but also in the man he has become.
Howden took the trouble to complete his education around the same time he made his World Cup debut and is now a trained and certified surveyor who will be able to help his father with the family business once his athletic career ends. He never wanted to leave school aside to only get done as a skater. School has always been a priority for him and his family, and being able to thrive in the two most important areas of his life makes him a model for success from all perspectives.
“I just try to be the best athlete that I can be. I am proud that I was able to study at the same time I was playing my sport. I will not change the way I did everything. To go to school and prioritize it, I think it was a good idea and today I don’t feel like No regrets. “
Reese Hooden writes her own story. One season at a time, one race at a time between now and the Beijing Olympics where his name will likely echo during the medal ceremony. The Ski Cross may not yet have the bad reputation it deserves, but if there’s one athlete who can inspire a new generation to care about him and make a difference, it is him. He might be the next Canadian legend, but the story he’s writing is very real.