“I love gliding, it feels like flying,” says Quebec cross-country skier Cendrine Browne over Skype from Italy’s Val Di Fiemme, where she’s training with the National Senior Development Team.
When Browne first started gliding on a pair of skis at 15, her physical education teacher encouraged her to try out for the Quebec Winter Games. She didn’t just qualify, but ended up placing seventh.
“I didn’t have any technique, it was just because I really loved skiing,” she says.
Browne begged her mum to register her in the local club, Fondeurs Laurentides. In the years since, the 20-year-old has placed fourth at the Haywood Ski Nationals in Yukon (2010) and won the Ski Nationals in Canmore, Alta. (2011).
Last year, she made her debut on the international cross-country skiing scene.
Browne competed at the FIS Nordic Junior World Championships in Liberec, Czechoslovakia. A five-kilometer race in her favourite style – freestyle.
Yet, it proved to be a tough race.
“I told myself that I could push harder than all the others so I pushed hard and I crossed the finish line,” Browne says and remembers seeing the big board announcing her placing 15th.
“I saw my name and I was so proud – I was really happy,” she beams. “All that hard work paid off.”
After landing a spot at the Pierre-Harvey National Training Centre, Browne moved from her hometown of St-Jérôme, outside Montréal, to Québec City.
But the 3.5 hour commute and year-round training makes it difficult to see her family.
“This year, I try to go back home more often because last year it didn’t help me not to go home. It’s hard sometimes when you miss someone or miss home so I try to go back home at least every two weeks,” Browne says.
She has her sights set on the 2018 Winter Olympics but also on a life after skiing.
“When I’m done with skiing, I want there to be something else. I want to get an education and be able to have a profession,” she says.
Remember the PE teacher? Well, Browne recently finished her first academic session for a Bachelor of Physical Education.
“I ended up at the Quebec Games, my first big competition because there was a PE teacher who told me that I could do it,” she explains.
“I want to do the same thing with kids or teenagers who have talent but don’t necessarily know it. I want to push them and tell them that they can do great things.”