It was around one year ago that Carson Gustafson began preparing for the 2015 WorldSkills Competition in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
From Aug. 11 to 16 it came to a head, though not the one that Gustafson was hoping for. The 21-year-old from Lloydminster finished tied for 15th place out of 27 competitors in Mechanical Engineering Design.
“I think you could ask any of the people on my team that didn’t get a medal if they were satisfied and they’ll give you an answer such as: ‘Well, I did my best, I tried my hardest.’ Of course I did that and I’m satisfied with the work that I put out there, but there’s always more you could have done in retrospect,” said Gustafson.
“I’ll always feel that way but at the same time, I worked my butt off, I worked the hardest that I could and I couldn’t have seen it going any other way.”
The WorldSkills Competition is a bi-annual event that hosts some of the most skilled tradespeople in the world between the ages of 17 and 22 in a week-long Olympics-style convention.
Gustafson, who earned a gold medal at the Skills Canada national competition in his trade in three consecutive years from 2012 to 2014, had spent the past several months preparing for WorldSkills with a handpicked trainer and a field expert selected for him by Skills Canada.
Due to eligibility restrictions, this will be Gustafson’s first and only trip to WorldSkills as a competitor. But now that his competition days are over, he’s setting his sights on a new goal.
“I want to be part of getting Canada up to an even higher standard,” Gustafson said. “We do well at these competitions and it’s a very intense competition, but I want to be part of what makes Canada great.”
To do that, Gustafson plans to get involved with the Skills Alberta provincial competition, of which he is an alumni and former gold medal winner.
Long term, he hopes to join Skills Canada and eventually apply for a field expert position, in which he would help prepare young tradespersons for competition.
“I want to stay involved and I’d love to be part of seeing the next competitor do well in my competition,” said Gustafson. “I just want to see Canada grow and see my skill in Canada grow.”
Gustafson also wants to see the WorldSkills Competition grow, and says he hopes to see it on par with the Olympics some day.
“I really love the WorldSkills competition, I love what it does, I love what it stands for and I wouldn’t change doing it for the world,” he said.
“I’ll remember this competition, I’ll remember the people that I met there for the rest of my life, I’ll remember the skills that I’ve built in the preparation for the competition.”