AFC gets experience on big stage

Apex Freestyle Club members take to big stage during Canadian selections event

Photos courtesy of Ronda Barzilay JOSHUA KOBER

Photos courtesy of Ronda Barzilay JOSHUA KOBER

Competing against national team mogul athletes, members of the Apex Freestyle Club gained valuable experience during the Canadian Selections.

Brass from the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association were in Penticton Dec. 13 to 16 to evaluate talent as a new season begins.

While there were many national C team and provincial-level skiers, AFC coach Kenni Kuroda was able to have four of his members participate on their host mountain.

“These athletes are all vying for spots on the Nor Am tour this winter,” said Kuroda. “That is one step down from World Cup.”

Kuroda said the event featured the best mogul skiers not on the World Cup tour.

AFC members competing were Koleton Phipps, Kassidy Todd, Mackenzie Schwinghamer and Madison Parker. Max Todd and Brayden Kuroda foreran the event.  Kyle Parker is with the AFC, but wasn’t part of the club for this event.

“I had no expectations of them doing well,” said Kuroda. “They finished right at the bottom but still I felt that they skied very well.”

It was the first competition of the season for them and the other athletes.

Occupying spots in the top-three on Dec. 15 were Christel Hamel from the national team, Alex-Anne Gagnon of Quebec and Aimee Hewat of Ontario. The top three males were national members, with Po Gagne finishing first. On Dec. 16, Hamel again took top spot, while Simon Lemieux this time took first.

Kuroda said he was proud of the way his athletes handled themselves “against far better competition than they have ever been up against.”

Kuroda watched as his athletes skied stronger and faster than normal.

“Their airs, some of them were doing flips for the first time,” he said. “This is a big deal for them to build confidence.”

Kuroda also praised the performance of AFC alumni Josh and Jordan Kober as well as Connor and Noah Spence, who he said did extremely well.

In the first final, Joshua Kober placed fifth, scoring 23.57, the winner Gagne, scored 24.44. In the second final, Kober placed 10th scoring 22.95.

Joshua said he felt good about his performance after having a shaky qualifying run in which he was 11th.

“I pulled through and as a top non-national team athlete,” said Kober, who competes with the Whistler Academy. “Yesterday (Sunday) qualified in fourth, final run didn’t go so great. Overall I’m pretty happy.”

Joshua was looking for top-five finishes both days. He said the other skiers looked pretty good.

“It’s good to ski against national team guys,” he said. “It’s a good gauge to see how much better I have to get to make the national team.”

His brother Jordan finished eighth in the first final and seventh in the second.

“For me it went really well,” said Jordan, also with the Whistler Academy. “I put down a solid run. I felt pretty confident because our team has been training super hard all summer.”

While Jordan said that competing in the familiar setting of Apex Mountain benefitted him, he doesn’t think there would have been much of a difference in his results had they been elsewhere. Heading into the event, Jordan was focused on having the best runs possible and didn’t think about placings.

Connor Spence placed sixth in the final on Dec. 15. AFC will have its first event in the Timber Tour at Apex Mountain on Jan. 17.