The best mogul freestyle skiers not on the World Cup circuit will be at Apex Mountain Resort Dec. 15 to 18.
They are competing in the seventh Canada Cup Series Toyo Canadian Selections. A total of 90 skiers from Canada, U.S., Japan, Korea and Australia look to have strong showings with spots on the NorAm circuit on the line.
“It’s a very important event for NorAm selections this year,” said Julie Steggall, high performance athlete development director for Freestyle Canada. “This is definitely an important event in so many ways. I like to put the focus on what it does for the athletes developmentally.”
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Steggall said what they would like to see from their national team skiers is landing on the podium. However, the main thing is seeing first is that the athletes are improving upon their last year’s skills.
“This event really started because Canada wanted to have a better scope on what their athletes were doing year to year,” said Steggall. “It actually started out as a camp and running assessments to assess how the athletes are skiing. What their physical capabilities are. It kind of grew because there’s a lot of international interest here to compete. We also see as a form for developing our athletes in a more rounded way. When they can compete against foreign skiers, in our home ground, it’s better. It gives us a better scope too.”
In past years, the Apex Freestyle Club has had members participate to gain experience. That won’t be the case this year as coach Kenni Kuroda said he doesn’t have athletes ready for this level. However, AFC have 10 alumni who are competing with Team B.C. and Alberta. On the B.C. team are Brayden Kuroda, Kassidy Todd (Keremeos), Madison Parker, Joe Durham, Shaina Finlayson, Chloe Kober and Hayden Person. On the Alberta side are Koleton Phipps, Mackenzie Schwinghamer of West Kelowna and Jamie Rykuiter of Vernon.
“That says a lot about our club moving kids up,” said Kuroda. “I’m thrilled for them. This is the next step. This is what they have been waiting for.”
The NorAm Tour will have a grand prix at season’s end which ranks the skiers in Canada and the U.S. Stegall described it as a level where skiers can get World Cup-style experience.
This is the seventh year the event takes place at Apex Mountain; Freestyle Canada comes because the resort is reliable. She also praised the volunteers that support the event.
“We couldn’t do the event without them,” said Steggall. “The quality of the course they have too is the type of course that we need to have early season so the athletes are ready for the NorAm circuit. It’s the right level of difficulty to prepare them for NorAm. As well, it’s not too challenging that they can train their skills in a safe environment.”