Calgary-born Olympian Liam Gill made a pitstop in Yellowknife during the afternoon of March 3 to try out Bristol Pit at the request of the non-profit snowboarding and skiing club Ragged Riders.

“I always wanted to come here and check it out,” said Gill. “It’s super cool. It’s really cold outside and the snow’s pretty sticky, but the little lift they have going, and the rails and the jumps, it’s super cool. They got all (the) booths and snowboard supplies for kids to come try for the first time. It’s awesome.”

Ragged Riders put out the request to get the Olympian to the pit after the organization learned Gill was heading to Beijing to compete in the 2022 Winter Olympics.

“We kind of reached out with NWT Snowboard,” said Max Rossouw, president of Ragged Riders. “We were having territorials down in Fort Smith, and we’re like, ‘Hey, that would be amazing if you could come on up after the Olympics,’ and it kind of just worked out.”

For Rossouw, Gill being willing to hang out and board with Yellowknife youths is “pretty freaking amazing.”

“Especially for all the kids here that don’t really get to see that kind of action,” he said. “A lot of the snowboarding kids here that have been with us in the last five years since we started this, they’ve kind of grown their skill level, and to see someone that is 18 years old that went to the Olympics, like they can be that next kid. So it’s really cool.”

As for Gill, who has relatives in Fort Simpson is returning from his first Olympics where he placed 23rd in the men’s halfpipe, recently competing at the world’s premier winter athletic event was a thrill.

“I mean, it’s pretty crazy, like coming back knowing I have Olympian status,” he said. “Growing up as a kid, I just loved snowboarding. So, yeah, it’s pretty cool. It’s pretty surreal.”

When doing his run at the halfpipe event in the Olympics, Gill said he was “super scared” before the big moment but is elated to have accomplished it.

“Like I’ve done World Cups and nationals, and provincials and stuff,” he said. “I usually get nervous, but I’m able to handle the nerves and stuff. But standing at the top of the pipe and knowing that I’m about to do a run on the world’s biggest stage, I knew I had so many family and friends watching that and I was like sick-to-the-stomach nervous.”

“So to be able to do my first run felt really, really good. Even though I fell, it felt amazing,” he said.

Gill, who resides in Calgary, plans to continue training so he can make podium next time around, but for now, he’s just enjoying the ride.

The Olympian is scheduled to stay in Yellowknife and make appearances at Bristol Pit until Saturday.

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