Andi Naude of Penticton and an alumni of the Apex Freestyle Club has been provisionally nominated to Team Canada for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games thanks to her 2016-2017 season results.                                 T-world/Taro Tampo

Andi Naude of Penticton and an alumni of the Apex Freestyle Club has been provisionally nominated to Team Canada for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games thanks to her 2016-2017 season results. T-world/Taro Tampo

Naude close to realizing Olympic dream

Penticton skier steps away from making Team Canada for 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics

Kaleden’s Andi Naude was quite the prognosticator as a youngster.

“I remember being in Grade 1 or Kindergarten and we had this worksheet that we had to fill out about where we see ourselves in the future. I wrote, ‘I want to be an Olympian,’” she said. “I had no idea what sport, summer or winter, I just knew I wanted to represent Canada at the Olympics in a sport I love.”

Flash forward some 15 years later and she is just one 12th place finish or better — and in the top two-thirds of the field — at a World Cup event from skiing moguls for Team Canada at the Olympics.

“It’s not quite official, official but I was given a pre-nomination with Mikael Kingsbury and Justine Dufour-Lapointe earlier this year and in the seven World Cup events prior to the games I just have to nail that 12th place or better,” said Naude.

That quest starts Dec. 9 in Ruka, Finland with the first event.

Her parents, doctors that immigrated to Canada from South Africa, tried out life in Saskatchewan but opted for the milder climate of Penticton. So when she was just one years old they packed up and moved to the South Okanagan. Years later she would be dragging her parents back to the thing they tried to get away from — snow.

“It’s pretty funny actually. With my mom and dad being from South Africa, snow was foreign to them. But, somewhere along the line they ended up with a cabin at Apex and we spent a few family weekends there. That is where I fell in love with the snow and the sport. I eventually was on the Apex Freestyle Team and on the moguls,” said Naude.

The 2013 FIS World Cup rookie of the year just turned 18 when she made her first attempt at Team Canada. On her second year of the World Cup tour, Sochi Olympics were in her sight.

“I was the underdog battling to get in, vying for that fourth spot on the team. It was between myself and one other girl and it came down to the last World Cup. It was a tough situation to be in,” said Naude, who did not make the team for that Olympic Games, ranking ninth in the world. “It was heart-breaking. I

was devastated.”

However, it was not making the Olympics that made her push herself even harder.

“Now looking back, I’m glad I didn’t go to Sochi. I just wanted it that much more and these past four years I have been working harder and I am more determined than ever. That huge disappointment made me that much more stronger.”

Pulling off some of the most difficult aerial tricks, Naude is one of a few women to compete with a backfull on the top air, she has proven herself as one to never give up. Her run is now dialled in with a back flip 360 rotation and she continues to be focused on fine-tuning and cleaning it up.

Now with the Olympics just 68 days away, Naude said she has her moments but it hasn’t fully sunk in that she is realizing her dream.

“When I walk past that section, you know at Hudson’s Bay with all the Team Canada stuff, I just get so excited. It is so cool to be part of Team Canada, just an honour. I couldn’t be happier.”

As for the rest of that grade school bucket list, all of those boxes have been ticked off.

“Also on the worksheet was to own a Subaru and a Bernese Mountain Dog. We had a Bernese and my family owns a Subaru, so yeah, it is all falling into place,” said Naude with a laugh.

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