Canadian freestyle team gives nod to Andi Naude

Okanagan Falls resident reaches her goal but rewarded with higher team slotting

Andi Naude (above) was named to the national freestyle team. On the left

Andi Naude (above) was named to the national freestyle team. On the left

An outstanding season with the Whistler Academy mogul team has helped Andi Naude reach her goal.

Entering the 2011-12 season, the Okanagan Falls resident wanted to make Canada’s national freestyle team. The 16-year-old received the good news by email from her Whistler coach Bobby Aldighieri.

“I was so excited. It’s so cool,” said Naude, who will be part of Group B, which competes in World Cup events. “It’s such an honour to be on such a strong team.”

Naude didn’t do anything special to celebrate. She finished some schoolwork online (she averages 90 per cent) and will be getting ready for the upcoming camp in May. A factor in what makes Naude successful is she enjoys the training. She said it’s part of the fun.

Upon getting the news, Naude heard from 2010 Olympian Kristi Richards and Christel Hamel, who is on the Group C team. Naude was thrilled to hear from Richards who, along with retired Olympic mogul skier Jennifer Heil, are athletes she looks up to.

“It will be cool to be on the same team as someone from the same area,” said Naude.

Among Naude’s accomplishments were winning the 2012 Nor-Am Grand Prix, first in the Canada Post Nor-Am Val St. Com in single and dual Moguls, first in Canada Post Nor-Am at Apex Mountain in single and dual moguls and second in the Nor-Am Telluride. She was also named the Rookie of the Year as she medaled in six of eight events.

“The veterans usually take the Grand Prix,” said Naude. “I can’t believe the results. I definitely didn’t expect that.”

CFSA high performance program director David Mirota said Naude likely could have made the team last season but they felt another season of development would benefit her.

“With her skill and competitiveness, she was a no-brainer,” said Mirota. “She has drive and potential for the Olympics.”

Because Naude won the overall Nor-Am circuit, Mirota said she deserved a spot on the B team to compete in Canadian World Cups.

“It was good results, especially for a 16-year-old,” he said.

What Mirota likes about Naude is her maturity, how driven she is and her aggressiveness on the course. That combination he said is a reason she is winning.

“She’s very coachable,” he said. “That is critical to make it to Olympic level. The skills are there.”

Mirota said that she will be in the mix for the Olympics as selections start next winter.

“She has a shot definitely. I wouldn’t be surprised if she made it,” he said, adding that they are more thinking to 2018.

He said she proved she can compete with the best during her solid showing at the World Cup in France. She placed 16th.