WINCHESTER – Living in landlocked Winchester has done little to quell Taylor McLaughlin’s passion for snowboarding.
The 14-year-old has been hitting the hills in Quebec since he first learned to ski the first winter he was “out of diapers,” according to his dad, Dennis.
As thrill-seeking often goes, McLaughlin looked to snowboarding for a change of pace and a different perspective when soaring down a mountain.
It’s been his sport of choice for a few years now, but it has only been in the last two that he got into racing (or snowboard cross).
McLaughlin is a member of the team at Mont Ste. Marie, Que., racing in provincial events at Bromont, Vale Ste. Come, and Mont Orignal.
“It’s fun to go fast, and a lot more challenging than just going down the hill,” he said.
With his family, McLaughlin spends much of his winters on the hills of the Quebec side of the provincial dividing line, training with his coaches, Tom Mason and Carly Woods of Wakefield.
Putting in the race work also led to a recent experience McLaughlin won’t soon forget, as he was given the chance to line-up with some of the best in the sport at the Speed Nation SBX Nations at the Big White Ski Resort in British Columbia.
“It was a big learning curve for me to see how the competition works,” he said. “More than anything, the terrain was much different than what we’re used to.”
Through three individual heats, his points total wasn’t enough to propel him to the finals, but it’s a memory nonetheless.
All around, it was a whirlwind experience for McLaughlin who only found out about the opportunity to take part a few days before the start of the event. It left little time to book airline tickets, arrange time off school for himself and days away from work for his father.
In the end though, his biggest takeaway was the educational experience of the trip.
“I won’t forget this… I’m definitely going to keep working to compete more,” McLaughlin said.