Mogul skiers enjoy big stage experience at Apex

Apex Freestyle Club relished the chance to compete against provincial and national level mogul skiers

CONNOR SPENCE goes inverted on the second jump of the moguls run in the Canadian Selections camp finals at Apex Mountain on the weekend. Spence finished eighth overall on Sunday and was the best of the three local skiers to make it to the last round of 16. Laurent Dumais

The Canadian selections mogul ski camp at Apex Mountain Resort during the weekend went mostly as expected for the home club.

Apex Freestyle Club coach Kenni Kuroda watched his athletes finished in the bottom third.

“It’s just the whole experience of this contest. It’s a little overwhelming for some of them,” said Kuroda. “They are much younger, too. My competitors are between the ages of 12 and 15. They are competing against 18 to 20 year olds.”

AFC members went up against provincial and national team members who would dominate the finals on Saturday and Sunday. The top skier from AFC, who was with the B.C. development team that weekend, was Madison Parker, finishing 19th on Saturday. She was followed by AFC alumni Mason Barzilay at 21st and AFC members Kassidy Todd, Shaina Finlayson and Mackenzie Schwinghamer at 22nd to 24th, respectively, in a group of 24.

On the men’s side, AFC alumni Connor Spence, competing with B.C., finished ninth, while Jordan and Josh Kober moved onto the finals. Jordan finished fifth, while Spence was ninth and Joshua Kober 14.

On Sunday, Spence and the Kober brothers were the only ones to advance to the finals again. Parker was the highest placing woman at 18th, while Barzilay cracked the top-20.

“Overall it was really good. I’m happy with the way I skied. The way I competed,” said Josh, 19 who loved being back competing on his home course. “In the end it didn’t go as well as I’d hoped.”

Jordan, who has come back after suffering a second degree tear of his medial collateral ligament, said his performance was OK.

“It was not as good as the ones I had in training,” the 17-year-old said. “I still put down a top-to-bottom. That’s all that really matters. I’m just going for consistency.”

Kuroda said his skiers loved the experience of competing against a strong field.

“It’s such a great opportunity having it hosted here at Apex and they are able to get into the contest,” he said. “If it were anywhere else in the country, they wouldn’t be able to get into it probably.”

Kuroda liked the way his skiers kept themselves together and didn’t allow nerves to get to them.

“They completed their runs which I think was the most important thing,” he said.

Finlayson, who finished 23rd on Saturday and Sunday, said it was exciting going up against the talented skiers.

“They are a little intimidating because they are a lot bigger, like national level,” she said. “It was really fun to meet all of them. I just wanted to have fun and make sure that I get down the run pretty much.”

Joe Durham, in his second season with AFC and first time competing in the event, enjoyed the competition. Durham placed 39th out of 46 on Saturday, then finished 38th on Sunday.

“They are pretty good,” said Durham, 15. “They’re good but they are all older than me so it’s OK. I just wanted to put down clean runs. I did, both times.”

Kyle Parker, also 15, is an AFC alumni. He placed 33rd on Saturday and 34th Sunday for the B.C. mogul team.

For Barzilay, this season is about making a comeback after tearing and retracting her anterior cruciate ligament during senior nationals two years ago. She said making the return has been hard at times, but likes being back with her old teammates and meeting new ones.

“It’s been a learning experience,” the 18-year-old said. “Competition is a lot harder. They are getting people in a lot younger. It’s hard to see all these younger girls and they are just throwing tricks that I wouldn’t have even dreamed of throwing at that age.”

Taking a year off school to make her comeback, Barzilay said she feels this is the year she has to make it work. She was happy with some aspects of her runs, but the results weren’t what she hoped for.

Jeff Fairbairn, the B.C. coach, said it was a tough competition.

“The kids are holding their own here,” said Fairbairn, a former AFC coach who wanted to see smiles and results. “The depth of the field is pretty deep. It’s more intense than what I thought it was going to be.”

Team Canada mogul skiers dominated the podium both days. Christel Hamel and Simon Lemieux took gold both days, while Kiera Leung took bronze on Saturday, then silver Sunday on the female side. Alex Anne Gagnon earned silver on Saturday, while Myriam Leclerc was third Sunday.

On the men’s side, Luke Ulsifer was second, while Kerrian Chunlaud was third on Saturday. Chunlaud improved his performance Sunday to take second, while Laurent Dumais was third.