Saint-Côme, QC – Freestyle Canada’s National Moguls and Aerials teams wrapped up their seasons with a final trip back to Val Saint-Côme, host of this year’s Canadian Championships. Under beautiful blue skies, the country’s best freestyle athletes were joined by over 60 skiers from the next generation, hailing from BC, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, to compete in the disciplines of aerials, moguls and dual moguls.
This is the second last stop on the Canada Cup Series, presented by Toyo Tires, with the tour ending in Whistler, BC in April for the Canadian Junior Freestyle Ski Championships.
The competition started on Friday with “The Eh Team” competing in the Aerials event, where Milton, Ontario’s Travis Gerrits recorded his fifth consecutive Canadian Aerials Championship title, performing a triple twisting double back flip, known as a double fullfull, to beat out his competitors.
“It was really good to come home and have a low stress event with some of the younger guys coming up. They’re so light-hearted and we had a lot of fun, which is what I needed at the end of the season,” commented Gerrits. One of those athletes, Quebec provincial team member Félix Cormier-Boucher, had a great performance, finishing second in front of Gerrits’ teammate, Oli Rochon, who finished third.
On the women’s side, Catrine Lavallée finished atop the podium, which she considered a redemption from her performance at World Championships in Sierra Nevada, Spain last week.
“My objective today was to better my performance from Worlds,” declared Lavallee. “I went big on my full-full and lay-full, trusted both jumps and landed super square. I was very happy.”
With only two girls in the competition, Lavallée was accompanied by Frédérique Duchaine on the podium, a young skier from team Quebec.
The mogul athletes took to the slopes on Saturday, where 42-time World Cup winner Mikaël Kingsbury also had redemption on his mind after some disappointing results in Sierra Nevada. He certainly failed to disappoint the local crowd on Saturday, performing near perfect cork 1080s on his top air in qualifications and finals to add another Canadian Championship title to his resume. He was joined on the podium by teammates Philippe Marquis, who placed second and Kerrian Chunlaud, who captured the bronze medal, after his turn scores broke the tie between him and teammate Gabriel Dufresne.
Kingsbury was very impressed by the talent he saw in the men’s competition, mentioning Elliot Vaillancourt and Olivier Lessard on the Quebec team and Ryan Portello on the Ontario team, who finished 4th, 9th and 16th respectively, as being “skiers to watch in the coming years.”
In the women’s competition, Penticton’s Andi Naude emerged victorious, capturing her second Canadian Championship title, with local skier and teammate Alex-Anne Gagnon finishing second and Team Ontario skier Berkley Brown finishing third.
“The course conditions were quite similar to what they were in January, at the World Cup event,” commented Naude. “I enjoyed the challenge this afternoon and was really excited to be able to come out here at the end of a pretty long season and put down a couple of great runs.”
Berkley Brown, along with Ryan Portello and Elliot Vaillancourt, will be travelling to Valmalenco, Italy to compete in the FIS Junior World Championships, April 3-7, 2017.
In the dual moguls competition on Sunday, two first-time champions were crowned – a surprising result, given defending Canadian Dual Moguls Champions and siblings Marc- Antoine and Alex-Anne Gagnon were in the final pairing of each event.
On the men’s side, Gabriel Dufresne defeated teammate Gagnon to capture his first Canadian Championships title. “I made a small mistake in the qualification round, so I had to build myself back up… my skiing continued to improve with each dual,” commented Dufresne. “I knew I’d have to ski my best against Marc-Antoine, this is his home course and I knew he was going to be strong.”
Joining Dufresne and Gagnon on the men’s podium was teammate Simon Lemieux, who captured the bronze medal.
On the women’s side, Team Ontario’s Sofiane Gagnon, making her third appearance at Canadian Championships, beat out Alex-Anne Gagnon (no relation) to capture her first title and fourth win of the season.
“I felt a lot of pressure yesterday, in the singles competition. I was really emotional at the top and didn’t feel great, but still had a good day, coming fourth,” stated Gagnon. “Today, I woke up and I wanted it: I fought and pushed and skied my hardest. I’m really happy I came back from a really emotional day yesterday to win. It’s a big surprise, I wasn’t expecting this.”
Ontario teammate Berkley Brown, returned to the podium in the duals competition, with a bronze medal finish, her second of the weekend.