Andrew Hildebrand’s third trip to Mansfield turned out to be golden.
The 17-year-old Forest Hill CI senior and captain of the Falcons’ snowboarding team won gold Feb. 27 on the slopes just outside Barrie in what was his final year representing the Navy and Gold at OFSAA.
He won the boys Level II event, with a combined time of 59.21 on two runs.
In early February, just after a huge snowfall in midtown, Hildebrand spoke with the Town Crier at Memorial Park on Chaplin Crescent. His enthusiasm was carving the crisp air much like his hardwood board does on the slopes.
With him that morning were mom Elyse and family dog Roxy the Bouvier.
There’s a grin on his face when he talks about the Hildebrands’ long history with snowboarding.
Andrew’s sister, Danielle, 18, boarded for Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto, and their brother Eric, 12, straps on the board fit for the slopes.
“Yeah, we’re a snowboard family,” Elyse Hildebrand admitted.
Andrew switched over from the skis when he was 6, and hasn’t looked back, learning about his sport from instructors in Collingwood: Jonas Brook, Danielle Courchesne, Ryan Crawford and Derek Nischan.
But he doesn’t forget his teacher-coaches at Forest Hill.
“It’s awesome,” Andrew exclaimed. “When I was in lower school I always wished there was a team.
“My sister had a team at her school and it was really annoying that she got to compete in her school. It’s awesome just having a team at [Forest Hill].”
Sylwia Halas and Andrew Oosterhoff, staff facilitators in Falcons territory, say they couldn’t have asked for a better team captain.
“He’s taken a lot of initiative in terms of Facebook, and getting the students on task, and with the administrative duties,” Halas said. “We generally like to see our team captains in his or her last year, and Andrew has definitely risen to the occasion.”
The Forest Hill snowboarding and ski team has 16 members, and at the beginning of the season there’s more interest, with 30–40 coming to tryouts.
Hildebrand has become a strong leader for the squad, and even though he is the only one from the school to make it to OFSAA during the past four years, Oosterhoff is hoping his energy can flow through those who remain for next season.
“With our younger students he is a leader to them, and they look up to him for sure,” he said. “Absolutely, we’re going to miss him.
“We’re going to miss his energy, and his leadership. He’s a really funny guy, and a good-spirited guy.”
The golden win at OFSAA saw Hildebrand improve on his second place finish in 2011, and his sixth place spot in 2012.
His source for inspiration?
Olympian Jasey Jay Anderson, and possible 2018 Olympic Ganes contender Darren Gardner.
But when it comes right down to it, nothing beats the rush he gets when going downhill, Hildebrand says.
“Just the feeling of carving — it’s a really great sensation — and the thrill of going fast,” he said.