Wednesday, 4 November 2015

FINDING MY FORM AS A JUNIOR FREESTYLER

Left - Steve Hambling, Middle - Mike Nemesvary, Right - Mike Abson
Mont Cascades, PQ 
             On January 5th, 1976 the Ottawa Citizen newspaper sports headline read, "Tiny Freestyler Leads Games" ... I was so proud!  That was my first ever newspaper article and it referred to my victory in a local freestyle competition at Mont Cascades, PQ which served as a qualifier to select the team for representation at the Ontario Winter Games in Sault St. Marie the next month.  The article went on to state, “Even though he was the youngest, smallest and lightest skier in the competition, he refused to develop an inferiority complex.”   At the time I was 14 years old and hadn't even reached puberty ... I was only 5'2" and weighed in at 95 pounds!  That winter was my first year as a competitive freestyle skier and I never lost a single over-all title.  I went on to win the men's title at the Ontario Winter Games, the regional qualifier for the Canadian Championships and finally the Canadian Championships.

The weekend of March 6-7, 1976 was significant as the inaugural amateur Canadian freestyle skiing championship.  Up until then, the sport had developed as a professional entity without any grassroots development programs or an equivalent amateur circuit.  All that would change in subsequent years.  The 1976 Shell Cup championships were held in "my back yard" at Camp Fortune in the Gatineau Hills of Quebec just 15 minutes north of Ottawa. The event was the first time I had ever competed at a national level and I had no idea what to expect or how I would perform.  I was certainly nervous, with my family and friends looking on, but I just settled my nerves and let my natural talents do the talking.  Saturday morning and day one, was the mogul event and it was held on Camp Fortune's north side on the steepest and iciest slope, "Heggtveit" named after the great Canadian Olympic alpine racer, Anne Heggtveit.  It was a cold day and the moguls were showing no mercy.  When my name was called, I steadied my nerves, pushed out of the starting gate and got turning quickly into solid, smooth rhythm.  After about 10 turns I spotted a good size bump and performed a big spread eagle right in front of the judges; I put in a solid landing and quickly got back into my rhythm. I picked up speed and took a second air “twister” at the bottom of the course just before crossing the finish line.  My score was sufficient to put me in first place in the Junior Men's division.

In the afternoon, we had to change skis and focus our minds for the contrasting ballet event. The course was held on the Camp Fortune valley side on "Pineault".  The slope was very gradual and lent itself to the spins, intricate manoeuvres, dance steps and pole flips (all performed to music) which comprised the event.  My music choice was "Sweet Georgia Brown" (the Harlem Globetrotters
Ballet - Shell Cup Canadian National Freestyle Championships
Camp Fortune PQ
 theme song) and the spectators all had a good laugh and some even whistled along! The ballet event was my weakest of the 3 disciplines and my choreography was under-developed as yet.  However, I was quite agile, dynamic and always a showman or some might say "show off".  Although, I wasn't the smoothest ballet skier, I linked some impressive spins and jumps and even ended the routine with two front head springs.  My effort was awarded with a second place result after my good friend and first place medalist Peter Heggtveit.  Importantly I was leading the field for the next day's aerials event.

That night I was so anxious that I barely slept.  But, I woke up the next day feeling energized and on top of the world.  Day two was the aerials event and this was my forte.  I had plenty of good warm up jumps and felt 100% ready for the competition.  My opening jump was a front suicide.  I took plenty of speed down the in-run and launched into a huge front layout, then, at the last second I performed a quick, tight tuck and kicked out for a perfect landing.  The sizable crowd showed their
Big Back Layou
Camp Fortune PQ
appreciation and my score was high enough to place me first after round one.  My second and final jump was a back layout. The jump was still relatively new to me, but I had practiced the manoeuvre hundreds of times and felt confident.  I approached the jump at about 20 miles per hour and as I launched off the kicker, I straightened my body, extended my arms like an eagle and enjoyed the ride.  I spotted the landing and at the last second bent my knees to absorb the impact.  It was a perfect two ski landing and the crowd were cheering and howling.  The score cards came up and I had won the aerials event and, at age 15, I was awarded the Shell Cup and crowned Canadian Junior Freestyle Champion.

            The next day, the local newspapers were praising my performance and stating that my aerial performance alone would have ranked me among the medalists in the Senior division!  At school the next day, in his morning announcements, our principal singled out my efforts and instantly I became a celebrity in the school.  I also received letters from our Mayor, Member of Parliament and even written congratulations from the Premier of the Province of Ontario.  It seemed like the whole community knew of me and I was lavishing in all the new found attention. Finally, I had found a sport which I loved to do, an activity that would focus my boundless energy and concentration.  It would prove to be the vehicle that would give me the opportunity to travel and represent my city, province and eventually my country.  As grand as these latent thoughts may sound, my initial drive was the personal desire to compete and become the best. Shortly following my victory in the Canadian Championships, I set my goal to eventually become the best freestyle skier in the world!

Check out this retro 5 min. video shot by my father Laszlo Nemesvary at the Shell Cup Canadian National Amateur Freestyle Championships in 1976! 


Final Results
Camp Fortune PQ

Ottawa Journal - Article
March 1976

10 comments:

  1. Dear Freestyle Fraternity:

    It has been such a long time reaching out to many of you and I hope you are doing well as we approach another winter season!

    I am pleased to inform you that Camp Fortune will be hosting the Senior National Freestyle Championships next March, 2016 which will coincide with the 40th anniversary of the 1st Shell Cup Canadian Nationals held in March 1976. Working in conjunction with the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association and Freestyle Skiing Ontario, I have taken on the Role of Chair - Senior Nationals Alumni Planning Committee [SNAP].

    We would like to invite you to be involved as an alumni athlete; volunteer or interested party. This celebratory event/milestone will recognize the birth of Canadian amateur freestyle skiing and the alumni who had the opportunity to compete 40 years ago!

    The following Blog "Finding My Form As A Junior Freestyler" sets the stage for our first Canadian National Championships but also sets in motion my 10 year career competing for both the Canadian and British National Freestyle Teams. Also, check out the 1976 retro video with my late father Laszlo Nemesvary capturing the aerials event on his "Super 8 mm" video camera ... way to go Dad!

    Your involvement and support is most appreciated. Please reach out to others within our "Freestyle Fraternity" who may be interested in supporting our efforts.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Replies
    1. Mike, Of course I remember you from Mt. Cascade and actually sent you a long email with a cool photo ... I guess you didn't receive it! Please send me an email to mikenemesvary@storm.ca

      Cheers,

      Mike

      Delete
  3. I sent a email mike , hope to hear from you soon , thanks

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Mike I have some super 8 my dad took also from Denyse Garneau

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Mike I have some super 8 my dad took also from Denyse Garneau

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Denyse,

      Great to hear from you. I'd love to check out your footage. As one of our Alumni hopefully you'll attend our event. Please send me an email to me asap at:

      mikenemesvary@storm.ca

      All the best,

      Mike

      Delete
  6. Hi Mike - good to hear from you - my email is dgsadler9@gmail.com take good care , Denise (formely Denyse)

    ReplyDelete

About Me

My photo

Skiing and Film Career:

 

At age 15, Mike Nemesvary set his goal to become the best freestyle skier in the world.  By the mid 1980's he held more than 40 titles in his sport including 3 World Cup Victories; 18 World Cup Podiums; 3 European; 11 Canadian and 5 British Championships.  Mike also developed a successful sideline as a skier and stunt performer in a number of television commercials, programs and feature films including James Bond’s “A View to a Kill” and Willy Bogner’s “Fire and Ice.” 

 

Spinal Cord Injury:

 

On May 18th, 1985 Mike’s life dramatically changed during a routine trampoline workout when he attempted a double twisting, double back somersault and blacked-out, landing on his neck instantly becoming a high level quadriplegic, paralysed from the chest down and losing full use of his legs, arms and hands.  Following months of intensive rehabilitation Mike picked up the pieces and began to rebuild his life.  He moved into an accessible home, learned to drive a modified sports car and became a proficient sit skier.  Wanting to share his life-affirming approach he started “The Back Up Trust”; a very successful UK-Based charity raising more than $20 million to enable people with spinal cord injuries to reintegrate back into society and surpass their aspirations by facilitating challenging sports.

 

Speaking Career and Disability Advocacy:

 

After completing his post-secondary education in Commerce, Mike developed and honed his skills to become a passionate, powerful and outspoken disability advocate.  He has represented many Not-For-Profit organizations including: World Committee on Disability; March of Dimes; Tetra Society of North America and National Access Awareness Week.  In 1992 he formed Mike Nemesvary & Associates and enjoys a successful and rewarding career as a professional speaker presenting 100's of keynotes, seminars and workshops to local, national and international organizations.  Some of his prestigious clients include: Pfizer Pharmaceutical Company; General Motors Corporation; Bell Canada; National Research Council; Canada Customs and Revenue Agency; Health Canada and the Canadian Injury Prevention Foundation.

 

‘Round the World Challenge:

 

Mike then decided to take the ultimate challenge by becoming the first quadriplegic to drive unassisted around the world.  More than 7 years in development, the ‘Round the World Challenge was a grueling circumnavigation lasting 7 months, through 20 countries and clocking more than 40,000 kilometres.  While navigating some of the most treacherous roads, enduring the most extreme weather conditions and temperatures on the planet, Mike also surmounted continual inaccessible stops and accommodations in an unrelenting, exhausting daily schedule.  During the formidable odyssey, Mike also managed to visit 40 medical institutions, gave 52 speaking engagements and wrote weekly columns.  The ‘Round the World Challenge successfully culminated in the Fall of 2001 and raised more than $1.5 million for spinal cord injury rehabilitation and research. His accomplishments received numerous honours and recognition in many countries including the “Key to the City” in Ottawa and the “Meritorious Service Medal” from the Governor General of Canada.

 

Personal Life:

 

Mike’s remarkable life has been extensively chronicled as the subject of six international and award winning television documentaries in addition to numerous magazine, newspaper articles, radio interviews and television appearances.  Mike presently resides south of Ottawa with his Partner, Mary Anne McPhee and “Sassy” and “Jigger”, both Labrador Retrievers “Certified Assistance Dogs”.  In his spare time Mikes enjoys sit-skiing, scuba diving, swimming, writing, backgammon, listening to music and playing the harmonica.