Telegram & Gazette
Ski Ward, the little Shrewsbury ski area that has produced so many top flight skiers and snowboarders, has spawned another elite snow sport athlete.
He’s Mikey Lacroix, 20, son of Evelyn and John Lacroix, owners of Ski Ward.
The younger Lacroix is the 12th-ranked U.S. snowboard cross, or boardercross, racer, a rising star with serious Olympic aspirations.
Lacroix placed third last August in the F.I.S. junior world championships in New Zealand in his last year of junior eligibility and is training now for the 2019 Nor-Am boardercross tour, which starts next month at Panorama, British Columbia, Canada.
His goal is to finish in the top three in the Nor-Am, the world’s second-highest boardercross circuit after the World Cup, and in doing so qualify for automatic starts on the World Cup in 2020, and hopefully, a slot on the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team.
“That’s the goal. Once I secure that spot, then for next season I can be all on World Cup, and grow from there,” Lacroix said in a recent telephone interview.
Lacroix has already had three World Cup starts and was a forerunner (a prestigious role testing out the course for the official competitors) at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.
Boardercross is a form of snowboard racing that mimics the format of motocross motorcycle racing. Unlike traditional individual against-the-clock ski and alpine snowboard racing, boarder cross pits multiple competitors — four to six to a heat — against each other on the same fast, twisting, high-banked course with multiple jumps.
It’s a thrilling sport, with plenty of contact as the racers jostle for position, and, unfortunately, a lot of opportunity for injury.
That inherent high risk doesn’t faze Lacroix, a business major at University of Massachusetts-Lowell, who takes each spring semester off to compete.
“You go fast, there’s a lot of jumps. There’s carnage,” Lacroix said. “It’s great. Just like in any sport, you’ve got to recognize the risks. You can’t really back down because of it. I’ve had a lot of pretty hard falls.”
Lacroix’s Olympic dreams are real, but they involve a level of complex physical and financial commitment that can be hard for outsiders to fathom.
While he commutes from the family home in Shrewsbury to Lowell for school in the fall, Lacroix trains at a Northboro gym. He spends nights working on the snowmaking crew at Ski Ward, the family business, which he hopes to help run someday, in the same capacity as his father, as the “outside” guy in charge of on-hill operations. His sister, Stephanie, now is general manager of the ski area.
For now, though, Lacroix just piles on the hours to save money for training, equipment and traveling around the world to compete.
On weekends, Lacroix travels to Sunday River in Maine, where the family has long had a vacation home, to train under the auspices of the Gould Academy ski and snowboard academy, from which he graduated high school.
Early in the new year, Lacroix will move out to his winter training base in Park City Utah, to prepare for the Nor-Am tour under the watch of his coach, Chris Davies, and in the company of an international crew of fellow boardercross racers.
As he has since been he first started racing junior boardercross events at Ski Ward at age 10, on courses built by his father, Lacroix is propelled by his love for and dedication to this unique winter sport.
“My favorite part is riding in traffic, where you have guys on both sides of you and you don’t have much room,” he said. “I don’t know, when you get restricted like that, it’s like the most adrenaline you can have.”
In addition to Lacroix, Ski Ward, with it’s famous “Where it all Begins” motto, was the starting ground for elite ski racers such as longtime U.S. Ski and Snowboard team member Nick Krause, a Northboro native, and All-American former Plymouth State University star Jason Hey, a Westboro native.
World class slopestyle snowboarders Mike Ravelson, originally from Shrewsbury, and Grafton’s Cole Navin also got their starts at Ski Ward.