After 15-year-old Dillon Morrison spent his entire summer mountain bike racing in the B.C. Cup Downhill Series some might think he would take the fall season to recuperate. But for the teen whose passion is racing and whose goal is to compete and become known on an international scale, there’s no time for rest.
Morrison was accepted to Victoria’s Canadian Sport School at the Pacific Institute of Sports Excellence last spring and started training at the beginning of September. He trains at the gym at Camosun’s Interurban campus in the mornings and buses back to Parkland Secondary School for his afternoon classes.
The sport school, which is an initiative of the Canadian Sport Institute in partnership with PacficSport, helps secondary school aged students balance their educational and training demands by giving school credits in subjects like physical education and planning for their training and education in sport.
“It’s nice because it allows me to balance school work and training time and I’m getting such a structured physical training regimen as well as lessons on things like nutrition, sports psychology and anatomy. That’s something I didn’t necessarily have before,” Morrison explained.
Although he finds it a bit tough to balance his social life on top of training and attending class at Parkland Secondary School his mother, Monica, said it has been paying off.
“We’ve found Dillon’s growth in all areas of his life has become easier and the challenges that some teenagers face during these years seem less intense when you have a child with a solid focus,” she explained.
Dillon was happy with his results through the season in the B.C. Cup Downhill Series where he competed this year in the U17 Expert category.
“My goal going into it was to finish in the top 10 in each race and I did that,” Morrison said.
In the B.C. Cup circuit, Morrison finished eighth at Race the Ranch in Kamloops, ninth at the Sunpeaks race, seventh at the Silverstar race and fifth at the Mount Washington race. In the Canadian National Downhill Championships at Panorama Mountain Village near Invermere, B.C. he placed seventh.
“I knew going into it that jumping into the higher category I would have some tough competition but it forced me to pick up my pace and push myself. I crashed in every single race but I kept my times up and I learned a lot.”
Morrison said he plans on going up another level next year in order to achieve the same results of decreased times on runs and confidence behind the handlebars.
“I don’t know what to expect going into a new category again but I know I’ll be in a with a tougher and more competitive crowd so my goal for next year will be to finish mid-pack in all my races,” he said.
Morrison was instrumental in getting Parkland Secondary School back into the local School Bike League last year and is an advocate of the sport.
“It’s a sport that has so many different disciplines and the fact that we live where we do, you can ride all year long,” he said, noting Hartland is known for its cross country terrain and Mount Prevost in Duncan for its downhill terrain.
“Outdoor activity is all but disappearing for children, but when you get involved in something like the biking world, you realize that there is another whole dimension to life. It really is a healthy lifestyle for the whole family,” said Monica, who has become an advocate for the sport through Dillon.
“We started in this adventure because Dillon found it natural and enjoyed the challenge in Grade 7,” she said, adding that it was not the sport they had anticipated Dillon to become interested in as a teen.
“This became Dillon’s passion after his first ride and although his teachers and coaches had him pegged for college university basketball, we had to go against the grain and help Dillon follow his dream. I think any parent would encourage their child to get involved in things they enjoy and are naturally good at. Watching Dillon improve each and every ride has been rewarding to say the least.”
And even though she said she likes watching him improve every time he sets out down a mountain, Monica isn’t shy to admit it can be nerve wracking for her and her husband, Gary.
“It is absolutely scary to watch Dillon race,” she laughed.
“I have seen him crash in front of me once. Since then I watch the practice runs but I stay at the finish line at race time. My only wish each time is that he comes down safely and to me it doesn’t matter where he finishes as long as he finishes safely.
“Gary is much better at watching the races than I am.”