Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by John Tonin

ABOVE THE TREES – Nicholas Suchy soars through the air on his first attempt of the Canada Cup Big Air final Sunday at Mount Sima.

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Photo by John Tonin

TAKING FLIGHT – Elyssa Willmott competes in the Canada Cup ladies Big Air final Sunday at Mount Sima. Willmott placed third overall with a best score of 69.20.

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Photo by John Tonin

FLIPPING OVER – Robbie Monteith does a flip on his first jump in the Big Air final.

Freestyle Canada starts season at Sima

More than 60 freestyle skiers from across the country competed in Freestyle Canada’s Canada Cup Series presented by Toyo Tires this weekend at Mount Sima.

By John Tonin on December 3, 2018

More than 60 freestyle skiers from across the country competed in Freestyle Canada’s Canada Cup Series presented by Toyo Tires this weekend at Mount Sima. It was the third year the Yukon Freestyle Association (YFSA) has hosted a Canada Cup event.

The competition began on Thursday as the athletes took part in training sessions for both Big Air and Slopestyle. The qualifiers for the two events were on Friday, while the Slopestyle finals were held on Saturday and the Big Air on Sunday.

The Canada Cup held in the Yukon allows for valuable competition before Christmas since the schedule gets hectic for the athletes.

“It’s a real advantage to the athletes,” said chair of the event and Freestyle Yukon president Lynda Harlow. “They are pretty competitive and there isn’t much between them. Having this available, having an early competition is really good for these athletes. They have a really short season so the earlier they can get on the snow the better for them.”

Freestyle Whistler head coach Graham Pollock said since the event happens so early in the season it allows him to fine-tune his athletes before they are constantly on the road.

“It’s awesome they do the event here so early in the season,” said Pollock. “It gives us some time before the next event to prepare and reevaluate where we need to work on. As soon as the next event happens we are gone. Once the competition season really begins you are on the road. You learn your tricks in the offseason.”

Yukon athlete Neil Mikkelsen, 16, competed in the Slopestyle event on Saturday and was really happy with his final result.

“I think I did pretty good, I came in 17 out of 25,” said Mikkelsen. “I didn’t think I was going to get that high in the score. All of these guys are a lot older than me and more experienced than me. I was just looking to improve myself.”

Most of the athletes competing were in the 19-21 age range. Mikkelsen finished 17/25 in his heat and 38/53 overall.

Noah Porter Maclennan, from Quebec, won gold in Slopestyle with a best score of 85, on Saturday. Christian Stormgaards, second, and Edouard Therriault, third, joined Porter Maclennan on the podium.

Skye Clarke, from Alberta, won gold in female Slopestyle, finishing with a best score of 79.60. Megan Cressey and Rylee Hackler came in second and third respectively.

The Big Air event capped off the weekend Sunday afternoon. Mikkelsen was supposed to compete in the event but had to pull out.

“I got up there a bit late and wasn’t prepared to do the competition,” said Mikkelsen. “Since it was so busy up there I didn’t get my training run, so I decided to play it safe.”

It is Mikkelsen’s third year competing in freestyle and his first Canada Cup competition. He is now going to turn his focus to the Canada Winter Games, where he wants to improve his tricks and practice some bigger ones.

The music was playing and the fire roaring for all the spectators on the hill, as they watched the athletes fly, twist and flip through the air. Six female athletes and 17 male athletes made it through the qualifiers to compete in the Big Air finals. The conditions on the course were partly cloudy, with temperatures at -10 C, and the snow was hard packed.

The athletes in the final rounds had two attempts on the jump. Their best score of the two attempts was the score that would determine their rank.

Cressey won the ladies Big Air final with a score of 79.20. It was her first event after a year off due to injury. “I hurt my knee last year, so this is my first competition in a while, I am stoked to be back.”

While at the top of the hill and staring down the jump, Cressey says she is just looking to stay positive.

“I just try and stay positive and tell myself I can do this, I’m going to land this, get all those positive thoughts going, and

visualization, that is huge in this sport,” said Cressey. “For finals I did a cork-7 and then a cork-9.”

Clarke came in second, and Elyssa Willmott finished third, to round out the podium.

The men’s Big Air winner was Nicholas Suchy, who competes with the Freestyle Whistler team. Suchy was first place out of qualifiers, and he won the event with a best score of 94.20 on his second jump, a score that surprised him.

“This is my first competition win,” said Suchy. “The first trick was a switch double-core Japan with a shifty and the second trick was a switch-double 14. I didn’t think I would score that high.”

It is Suchy’s third year competing in the Canada Cup Series and he said it is always good to see the other athletes, who he has competed against for a while now.

Although racing on the circuit for three years, Suchy says he still gets scared while staring down the jump.

“There is a lot really, and at the same time nothing, it’s just trying to focus on my takeoff, that is my main goal,” said Suchy about his mindset before jumping. “But I am always terrified, but I had two tricks in mind and they went out pretty well.

Adam Fiselier scored 92 on his first jump of the final to finish in second. Dylan Deschamps rounded out the top three with a score of 88.60 on his first jump of the final round.

Harlow says the event went flawlessly, and that without the many volunteers, the Canada Cup would not be able to be held in the Yukon.

“The volunteers make this whole event happen,” said Harlow. “Some of them don’t even have kids involved in the event, and that speaks volumes to the freestyle community here in the Yukon.”

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