Sports

High hopes for mogul skiers

SHANIA FINLAYSON, 13, performs one of her freestyle skills off the specially-designed ramp on the southeast corner of Okanagan Lake during the summer. Young alpine skiers must have water-jump certification before moving on to compete in the winter events. - File photo
SHANIA FINLAYSON, 13, performs one of her freestyle skills off the specially-designed ramp on the southeast corner of Okanagan Lake during the summer. Young alpine skiers must have water-jump certification before moving on to compete in the winter events.
— image credit: File photo

Kenni Kuroda has a vision for the Apex Freestyle Club this season.

The AFC coach expects to see his athletes on the podium often during the 2012-13 season.

“We have a very strong team this year,” said Kuroda. “We have always been dominant in moguls and that will continue. Just because of the facilities we have up at Apex with Kristi’s Run, it’s a world-class mogul run.”

While the season begins Jan. 17, the first event for the mogul skiers will be the Canadian selection camp from Dec. 15 to 16.

Kassidy Todd, 14, is among the members attending the camp and is excited and a little bit nervous as coaches watch her. Along with impressing at the selection camp, Todd has other goals.

“I’m aiming to get on the podium,” said Todd, described by Kuroda as a very good mogul skier. “I feel confident I can accomplish that.”

Another skier Kuroda is looking for good things from is James Naude.

“He just did amazing this year. He finally got it into his head, he’s always been in the shadow of his sister,” said Kuroda, adding that Andi Naude earned a spot on Canada’s women’s national team. “We kind of broke him out of that this year. He started doing back somersaults on the water ramp. He’s really excited this year to get back into mogul skiing. He will really improve this year. He’s always kind of held back because Andi is so good.”

The club will be competing in the Timber Tour, formerly known as the B.C. Series. Two big events for the skiers said Kuroda  are the NorAm, which is a step down from the World Cup and Junior Nationals, both being held at Apex Mountain. The NorAm takes place Feb. 14 to 17 and Junior Nationals will be March 14 to 18.

“We are expecting 300-plus athletes Canada-wide,” he said.”It’s a big event in Canada. Lots of up and comers and future Olympians.”

The Timber Tour series features three races, the first at Apex Mountain Jan. 17 to 20.

AFC has nine athletes returning to junior competition, 13 of 16 to the competitive group and two out of eight to development.

Off-season training for AFC involved a lot of work on the water ramp. Kuroda said it was a big success. Once they got insurance issues out of the way, the athletes were out there four days a weeks for two-and-a-half months.

The training is important for the athletes as they must qualify inverted jumps on water or on an air bag. They have also been training on trampolines since mid-September to keep their air sense and prepare them for hitting the snow.

AFC has kids in competitive, development, junior competitive and in the jumps and bumps programs. Kuroda said they are hoping to have 40 to 50 kids in the latter program.

Seven athletes from AFC are making the jump to high performance teams. They are Mason Barzilay and Noah Spence to the B.C. Mogul team, Riley Culver to Park and Pipe B.C. team, Hunter Visser with the Wind Sport Academy half-pipe team.

Going to the Whistler Academy are Connor Spence along with Josh and Jordan Kober. Another notable is Matt Margetts who competes with Canada’s half-pipe ski team.

 

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