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Teen skier propelled to gold by positive mind set, having fun

'I just want to set a good example for everyone who wants to do something cool,' says Eastview student Charlie Beatty, who competed in Winter Youth Olympic Games in South Korea

Sixteen-year-old Charlie Beatty has his sights set high — 60 feet, to be exact.

That was the distance of one of the Grade 11 Eastview Secondary School student’s winning jumps while competing in the 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games, which took place in Gangwon, South Korea between Jan. 19 and Feb. 1.

The Horseshoe Valley resident started skiing at the age of two, noting he got into “park skiing” — which he described as a mixture of jumps and rails on the ski hill — at the age of five.

“My brother did it on a snowboard when I was growing up and my brother is a huge inspiration," Beatty says. "I have always looked up to him and tried to do everything he was doing … So I decided I would do it just on skis.

"Once I started doing it more and more, I found a love for it and actually found out I wasn’t bad at it."

To say the teen “wasn’t bad at it” would be a slight understatement these days, having won a gold medal in men’s freestyle ski big air at this winter's event.

Not only was Beatty selected as a member of Team Canada, he was also selected for the distinct honour of being the country’s flag bearer for the opening ceremony at the games.

“It was a huge honour just to be selected to go Korea, let alone be the flag bearer. That was a whole other thing that I never expected to happen," he said. "When I got the news I’d be doing that it was a pretty big deal for me. I didn’t even really understand how big of a deal it was in the moment until I got there and did the whole thing. 

"Being out in the stadium and waving that flag was pretty cool … I don’t remember much honestly, but from what I can remember it was something I can’t really even explain. It was awesome.”

While Beatty has competed in numerous high-level competitions — including several World Cup events — he says this was definitely the largest scale competition he’s participated in so far.

“This was definitely the event that had the most coverage and the biggest viewership. It was the event I had the most eyes on me for sure,” he said.

Beatty, who competed in both the free-ski slopestyle and freestyle ski big air, won Canada’s first gold medal of the games in the big-air competition.

His first event of the games was slopestyle, and while he admitted it wasn’t his best performance, Beatty says he still had fun.

“I had a few little things that didn’t go my way, but honestly that’s just skiing and sports," he said. "You’ve got to just take it for what it is and move on. I knew I had to be in the right head space to compete in big air later that week. Going into that with a positive head space definitely helped me to succeed for sure.”

Heading into his second event later in the week — which included three jumps (the best two scores are taken and used towards the final score) — Beatty says he wasn't as nervous as he expected, especially considering he hadn’t competed in this event for some time. 

“I had nothing to lose. I knew I had to do my best and try to put it down there," he said. "When I don’t have a lot of pressure on myself, I think that’s when I perform the best. I was fortunate enough to be in that head space then and I did well."

Beatty ended up with a final score of 177.75.

“The field was so competitive and everyone was doing so well that day that I didn’t know until the very end. It was coming down to the wire," he said. 

Back home, Beatty’s family — joined by hundreds of friends, family and even strangers — were cheering him on as they watched him on the big-screen televisions at the Crazy Horse Sports Bar & Grill at Horseshoe Resort.

“It was pretty incredible. Everyone felt like they were there with him,” said his mom, Paula Beech. “It was cool because this is where he grew up skiing. So to be up there watching him and then looking out onto the hill was surreal.”

Hearing about the crowd that gathered to support him meant the world to him, he said.

“That means the most to me, to have a solid community behind me, and that probably makes the biggest difference in my skiing," said Beatty. "Obviously, my family has been really supportive ... and growing up at Horseshoe, everyone is always there to support me and I am super grateful.”

As an unfunded athlete, that community has also been essential to allowing him to compete, helping raise money over the years to cover some of his costs.

He’s also been lucky enough to have the help of various sponsors — including Corbetts Ski and Snowboard, which now supports him with his equipment needs, Muskoka Woods, which helps with financial support and camp experiences to train on trampolines, HGC Investments, Georgian International and Anson Funds, all of which help with travel and training costs.

Beatty is headed to Austria and then New Zealand later this summer to continue his training, which he hopes will ultimately lead him to Italy to compete in the 2026 Canadian Winter Olympics. 

“That’s kind of the ultimate goal for me. I think just seeing how far I can take it and trying to be really consistent at the highest level … and just inspire a whole bunch of other people and the new generation coming in,” he said. “I just want to set a good example for everyone who wants to do something cool.”

Balancing out the pressures of being an elite athlete with being a “normal” teenager definitely comes with some challenges, said Beatty, but he says he does his best to make it work — with the most important factor being ensuring he is still having fun on the slopes.

“I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t have fun. I think I would have stopped a long time ago. That’s always a reminder I have to set for myself — to remind myself why I am doing it and why I am here (and that’s) just to have fun and express myself on the ski hill," he said.