Canadian mogul skiers owned the podium at Apex Mountain Resort during the WIN Canadian Selections Canada Cup series over the weekend.
On the women’s side, Julie Bergeron captured gold, while Alex Anne Gagnon took silver and Clare Lambert third. Apex Freestyle Club member Mason Barzilay was seventh, while AFC alumni Mackenzie Schwinghamer was eighth on Dec. 19. On Dec. 20, Gagnon won gold, while Sofiane Gagnon took silver and Ontario’s Berkley Brown took bronze. Barzilay was 10th.
On the men’s side, Whistler’s Daichi Hara won gold, while Canadian’s Laurent Dumais took silver and Gabriel Dufresne earned bronze. AFC alumni Jordan Kober, a member of the Canadian national C group team, was sixth. On the second day, Kober won gold, Hara was second and Dufresne earned bronze. Kober said it was awesome to win on his home mountain.
“The level of competition here has definitely increased over the last couple of years,” he said, adding that there were more Japanese skiers who are talented. One of my friends, Daichi Hara, he’s on the Japanese team but he skied on the B.C. team for a few years. He is an awesome skier. Lots of provincial guys too were giving the national team guys a run for their money.”
In talking about his performance, going from sixth in one final to the top spot in another, Kober said the difference was in his bottom air. In Saturday’s final, he didn’t land his cork well. The next day he nailed it.
“I knew I could do it if I put down a good run,” he said, adding that his goal was to ski consistently.
Competing on the NorAm circuit for the third season, Kober wants to make it onto the podium a few times.
As for Barzilay, the West Kelowna product said she felt good about how she did despite Sunday’s result. Her performance is one she feels she can improve especially since her score was five points lower than Saturday’s 66.97.
“I put down solid runs. I showed a vast improvement,” said Barzilay, who improved her times by up to five seconds compared to last year. “It was definitely a bigger improvement than I was hoping for so that was exciting.”
She credited her improvement to her off-season training. Barzilay, 20, said the field of 27 was tough with World Cup level competitors. Five athletes from the Canadian national team, including Alex Anne, who finished fifth at the FIS World Cup event in Ruka, Finland earlier this month. It was a very solid field and Barzilay now feels she is one step closer to her goal of earning a national team spot. The Canadian Freestyle Ski Association makes those selections in the spring.
“They were very, very impressed with my progress,” said Barzilay, who hopes to get an invite to the interview process by the Canadian national team.
AFC coach Kenni Kuroda said he didn’t realize how deep this year’s field would be. He said it’s a big change from last year, especially with the speed athletes completed their runs.
“Just the mere speed of things impressed me the most,” said Kuroda. “Mason did well. She was definitely holding her own against the girls from the national team.”
Barzilay and Anna Spence were the two skiers Kuroda coached for the event, as the other AFC members competed with the B.C. development team. Kuroda said that in this type of competition, it is personal bests they are striving for, not podium positions.
“They did exceptionally well. They all did personal bests, some throwing new tricks for the first time,” said Kuroda. “Getting over that is huge for my club members.”
In qualifications, cracking the top 20 of the female side were Spence, Kassidy Todd and Shaina Finlayson. On the boys side, Noah Spence was 28th, Hayden Person was 29th and Brayden Kuroda was 31st on the first day. On the second day, Spence was 24th, Kuroda 25th and Person 36th. Kuroda was the youngest skier in the field at 14 years old and the AFC coach said he did very well.
“Improving speed and improving everything is what this is about for them,” said Kuroda, “They can see what they have to work on.”