Home sweet home, Andi

Penticton's Andi Naude ends her mogul skiing season on a high in the 2014 Canadian national moguls championship

PENTICTON’S ANDI NAUDE reached the podium twice in the 2014 Canadian National mogul championship held at Apex Mountain over the weekend. Naude is familiar with the course having developed her moguls skills there with the Apex Freestyle Club.

PENTICTON’S ANDI NAUDE reached the podium twice in the 2014 Canadian National mogul championship held at Apex Mountain over the weekend. Naude is familiar with the course having developed her moguls skills there with the Apex Freestyle Club.

Penticton’s Andi Naude got her wish over the weekend during the 2014 Canadian National mogul championship at Apex Mountain.

Naude found herself on the podium twice, first winning gold in the moguls, then taking silver in the dual moguls on Sunday.

“It’s been so nice to be back up there,” said Naude, an alumni of the Apex Freestyle Club. “My skiing really felt good this week. Really felt like I was making improvements every day. It was a lot of fun to be at home skiing.”

Naude, whose best result was fifth on the World Cup circuit since the Olympic break, was extremely excited about her golden performance.

“That was probably one of my better runs this year,” she said.

When jokingly asked if every World Cup race should be held at Apex, Naude said for sure.

“I would love to have a World Cup here,” she said, adding that the crowds were amazing.

It was the perfect finish for the hometown product, who was like a celebrity following the awards ceremony signing things for kids.

“It’s really cool. I love little kids,” said Naude, who relishes being a role model.

While Naude enjoys being a role model for future mogul skiers, she went head-to-head with AFC member Kassidy Todd, who looks up to her.

“It was crazy. A lot of nerves going into it,” said Todd, who along with Madison Parker (14th in dual moguls), qualified for the finals both days. “It was fun.”

Todd, who placed 16th in dual moguls, said Naude is a great athlete who is always happy and said she is admired by all the females in the Apex Freestyle Club.

Todd loved the weekend, especially seeing the older athletes and Olympic athletes.

“They really set off an awesome vibe,” said Todd. “They are all really friendly. Really nice and supportive.

Chloe Dufour-Laponte said she and her sisters enjoyed interacting with the young fans.

“It really pushed me and my teammates. This is one of the biggest competitions I have ever been in,” Todd continued. “To make it to finals was crazy.”

AFC coach Kenni Kuroda said it was a thrill for the skiers to stand at the gate with two-time Olympic gold medallist Alex Bilodeau and Olympic silver medal winner Mikaël Kingsbury.

“They were more interested in getting autographs from them,” said Kuroda.

As for the performances of his skiers, Kuroda said they did fantastic.

“We had Madison Parker and Kassidy Todd make the women’s final on both days,” he said. “They skied really well. They came out here to set an example for Apex.”

Kuroda’s message to the young athletes was to enjoy the experience and not be too intimidated. Along with Parker and Todd, Brayden Kuroda, Koleton Phipps, Joe Durham, Max Todd and Mackenzie Schwinghamer competed. Among the alumni were Mason Barzilay, who advanced to the finals moguls and dual moguls (finished eighth), Josh and Jordan Kober, Connor Spence and Kyle Parker. Spence of the BC Freestyle Mogul Team finished 12.

“I think it was because there was really no pressure on them,” he said. “They were able to relax a little more and ski the way they always ski.”

While Naude took gold on Saturday scoring 24.91, Audrey Robichaud took silver scoring 24.11 and Kiera Leung bronze with 23.09. On the men’s side, Bilodeau ended his career by capturing gold in the single mogul, scoring 26.57, while Kingsbury took silver with 26.18 and Simon Lemieux bronze with 25.75.

“It was just a bonus to be here at the nationals,” said Bilodeau “I had fun yesterday. Tried to have fun today (Sunday), unfortunately the landing was too soft because I was first to go in the gate. Yesterday was great. I finished first. It was a very tight race. “

Bilodeau, 26, is familiar with Apex Mountain having competed there when he was younger.

“This course is amazing. The best I think is their people and the quality of the snow,” he said. “It’s an amazing place to ski. I remember I did my pre-Olympic camp before Vancouver here. It was a special place to really get ready for Vancouver. I’ve got a lot of memories here. I have been here so many times. I love it.”

Canadian Freestyle Ski Association chief executive officer Bruce Robinson said it was an amazing weekend.

“Apex Mountain is one of the clubs in the country that really does a fantastic job of staging events,” said Robinson, giving praise to the volunteers. “It’s a really awesome chance for the younger kids to ski against their heroes. I think what we saw today was the younger kids pushing the national team skiers, makes them take it serious and ski hard. We had excellent competitions today.”

Check Friday’s issue of the Western News for a story on Alex Bilodeau talking about his career.