Kimberley’s Molly Miller isn’t letting a lack of experience slow her down as she takes Canada’s cross-country-skiing scene by storm.
After earning third-place finishes amongst B.C. racers at Canada Winter Games trials in Vernon this past weekend, Miller, a 13-year-old nordic skier and Selkirk Secondary School student, was named to Team B.C.’s entry for the 2015 Canada Winter Games set to be hosted by Prince George, B.C., Feb. 13 to March 1.
“Once you realize you’ve made it and completed your goals, it’s pretty good,” Miller said Monday afternoon. “I just tried to take it all in.”
Miller raced in the senior division (age 23 and under) at the trials in order to qualify for the Canada Winter Games. Taking on national competition as much as 10 years her senior, the Kimberley racer finished ninth overall in the five-kilometre skate and 11th overall in the classic sprint. The performances put her third amongst B.C. athletes in both competitions, paving her way to Team B.C. and the 2015 Canada Winter Games where she will once again face older athletes.
“Even if you’re as fast as the older competitors, they’re bigger, stronger and more aggressive,” Miller said. “I’m a bit nervous to race [at the Winter Games]. I haven’t had a lot of experience racing against people [10 years older than me].”
A total of five women will represent Team B.C. as cross-country skiers, with Miller being the youngest of the crew.
Miller’s arrival on the cross-country ski scene isn’t out of the blue. The native of Kimberley competed at the the 2014 national championships in Corner Brook, N.L., earning three medals (one gold, two bronze). She was also the recipient of the Sofie Manarin Award as the top female juvenile skier (age 15 and under).
Prior to the Canada Winter Games trials, Miller turned in strong performances at 2014 NormAm Race Series events, finishing first in the juvenile age category in both Rossland, B.C., and Canmore, Alta, earlier this season.
“Molly is really strong mentally and she has a really good work ethic,” said mother Kim. “She works really, really hard. She loves skiing and she’s very passionate about it. She’s a fierce competitor.
“[As parents] we’re really proud of how dedicated she is and how hard she works. She’s very driven.”
At the Canada Winter Games trials, Miller had the opportunity to race against her idol, 23-year-old Heidi Widmer, who represented Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. If all goes as planned, Miller’s rise won’t stop anytime soon, as she hopes to one day follow in the tracks of her cross-country idol.
“I hope to go to the Olympics and be on the national team,” Miller said. “Maybe even get a medal at the Olympics. We’ll have to see once I get closer to that age.”
Miller has been training with volunteer coach Paul Freeze at the Kimberley Nordic Club since she was nine years old, but remembers being out on the trails with her family since she was just three years old.
She credits Freeze with helping to keep the sport fun, while also providing her with the knowledge, tactics and detail required to be successful in competition.
In addition to her coaches, Freeze and Paul Ackerman, Miller also wished to thank her sponsors — Fischer, Swix, Kootenay Cycle Works and Canmore Trail Sports — for helping her head to the 2015 Canada Winter Games.
Team B.C. will also be represented by 16-year-old Hannah Mehain (Sovereign Lake Nordic Club), 17-year-old Eliza-Jane Kitchen (Hollyburn Cross Country Ski Club), 17-year-old Katie Weaver (Hollyburn Cross Country Ski Club) and 22-year-old Kajsa Heyes (Hollyburn Cross Country Ski Club/Nipissing University).
The 2015 Canada Winter Games will be hosted in Prince George, B.C., from Feb. 13 to March 1, 2015. The cross-country events are currently slated to run from Sunday, Feb. 22, through Saturday, Feb. 28, at the Otway Nordic Centre.
Prince George is the first city in B.C. to host the winter edition of the Canada Games.