P.E.I.'s lone snowboarder at Games showing 'great attitude' heading into competition
Snowboarder Oliver Murphy has just two simple goals at the Canada Winter Games this week.
"I just want to try to avoid getting injured … and just have fun," he said.
That will mean trying not to wipe out when he races down the hill at Brookvale against three other athletes per heat, navigating rollers, table tops and big bank turns.
Snowboarding is relatively small sport on P.E.I. Murphy, a 15-year-old Grade 10 student at Kinkora Regional High School, will be P.E.I.'s lone competitor in the sport this week.
But that doesn't mean he won't have people cheering for him when the competition begins on Tuesday.
He's just been an absolute pleasure to coach. — Nicole Murtagh
"I have a bunch of cousins, family, friends of my parents, stuff like that, that'll hopefully be there for the games."
Murphy will be competing against snowboarders who train on much larger hills than Mark Arendz Ski Park — though he's not exactly new to the sport. According to family stories, his father put Murphy on a board in the snowy front yard of his grandmother's house when he was just three years old.
"I don't remember [when] I started so it's just always kind of been part of my life," Murphy said. "I love it, enjoy it. It's a lot of fun."
His coaches, Nicole Murtagh and Mike Rankin, are encouraging him to soak in the experience.
"Oliver is really great to coach," Murtagh said. "He has a great attitude and is a very talented snowboarder, he has really good skill. He's just been an absolute pleasure to coach."
Murphy will be using a board he borrowed from his friend Matt Cormier for the competition. It was handmade in B.C. specifically for boardercross races.
"I've been riding and training with it this season so I'm feeling pretty good about it."
Murphy competed at the U15 national championship last year in Quebec, but he's not sure if he will continue to compete in snowboarding after the Canada Games.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, he developed a new passion — disc golf. He finished third at the national championship last year, and took on a couple of sponsors.
But this week, he'll focus on snowboarding — having fun and coming out in one piece. He expects it's something he'll be able to do at least recreationally for many years to come.
"I just love being able to go fast riding down the hill, doing nice turns. And being able to ride back up the hill and kind of see the tracks I made in the snow is kind of cool."