AVERY BALBANIDA aims for a great performance at the beginning of his cross-country campaign on Monday in the fourth Winter Youth Olympic Games Cross-Country events at the Alpensia Biathlon Centre in Gangwon, South Korea.
Balbanida, 16, the third and last winter athlete to perform for team Philippines after short track speed skater Peter Groseclose and freestyle skier Laetaz Amihan Rabe, will shoot for the fastest time in the men’s sprint freestyle starting 10:05 a.m. qualification round.
“In sprint event, I hope to win it since that’s my event forte but for the distance classic skiing, it’s just fine,” Balbanida, a grade 11 second year student from All Saints High School, said. “I just hope to enjoy the moment and do my best here.”
But the first challenge facing Balbanida is to become among the 30 fastest skiers to make it to the quarterfinal during the qualifying stage — where a challenging 32 meters challenging height difference, 11m maximum climb, 40m total climb and lap length of 1535m are facing the 80 skiers.
Balbanida, under the guidance of Canada based Australian coach Allison McArdle, will be competing also in the 7.5 meters classic distance race on Tuesday at 1 p.m.
“There are many young great skiers here, but I’m not familiar with them. I think those who came from Nordic countries like Finland, Sweden and Norway, but I’ll be ready.”
Short track speed skater Peter Groseclose finished fifth overall in the 500m event last Monday before accidentally injuring his right foot while Rabe suffered a knee injury during warm up that forced her out of the freestyle slopestyle event on last Wednesday and Sunday’s big air competition.
Both athletes had already left South Korea.