After finishing just off the top spot on the podium at home, Etienne Geoffroy-Gagnon made a game plan adjustment heading into the second Canada Cup Series event in Calgary – and it paid off in gold.
The 20-year-old freestyle skier from Whitehorse took home the gold medal in the slopestyle event in Calgary on Sunday after finishing in second place in the first series event on Mount Sima.
“I was pretty ready and kind of sticking with my game plan that I made for myself which was an A run and a B run that I had in mind,” Geoffroy-Gagnon said. “I had a B run for qualifications and an A run for the finals.”
This plan paid off for skier who qualified for the 24-person final in sixth spot with a score of 83.2.
“I got the score I was looking for to make it to the finals. I had a lot of new things,” he said.
Going into Sunday’s final, Geoffroy-Gagnon said his plan was to step it up with his planned A run rather than doing the same run as in qualification.
“A lot of the times in previous competitions I’ve done the same run,” he said.
“I’ve learned that the judges are looking for something more on finals day.”
In Whitehorse back in November, the Yukoner finished the qualification in top spot, but with those scores scrapped, it is only the final two runs that matter.
His final run score of 87.8 fell just 1.4 points short of the gold.
Through his experience on the circuit, Geoffroy-Gagnon said he noticed the judges tend to be more critical during the finals runs and as a result generally give lower scores, but that wasn’t the case this time.
On his first run of the final, the Yukoner said he was happy with his performance and landed what he wanted to do leading to a score of 86.5.
The second run didn’t go quite as planned, with Geoffroy-Gagnon saying he messed up on a rail section and finished with a score of 83 so it was a waiting game as the other competitors did their second run with the score of 86.5 still
holding strong at the top.
“It was good to have that first run hold up. It was stressful seeing everyone else go,” he said.
But the score held up over the other 23 competitors and Geoffroy-Gagnon finished on the top spot for the first time this season.
He will now be turning his focus to the freestyle skiing Nor-Am Cup competition with the first event held on the same course in Calgary on Feb. 9.
The Nor-Am Cup circuit is a higher level of competition, Geoffroy-Gagnon noted competing against the top athletes from the United States and the Canadian freestyle ski team.
His top finish on the Nor-Am circuit came last March in Pennsylvania in his last event of the season.
Geoffroy-Gagnon finished in eighth spot out of the 61 competitors.
Now with the season in full swing, the Whitehorse athlete has been training with the Alberta team which he said has been his “second home” during the ski season.
So he said it was nice to be joined by two fellow Yukon Freestyle Ski Association members, Niko and Miguel Rodden at the competition in Calgary.
He also noted it was good to have three Yukoners representing the territory on a national level showing an increase in athletes and growth of the sport.
Niko qualified for the final with a strong run of 82 but couldn’t get a clean run off in the final finishing with a score of 25.5.
Miguel just missed out on a spot in the top 24 after the qualification run finishing in 25th spot with a score of 70.2.
The next Canada Cup Series event will be March 25 in Quebec.