Whitehorse Daily Star

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A TOUGH SEASON – Yukon freestyle skier Etienne Geoffroy-Gagnon, seen here skiing at the Calgary world cup in 2020, has finished his season which he described as challenging because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Geoffroy-Gagnon ends his season

Yukon freestyle skier Etienne Geoffry-Gagnon’s season has come to an end after he competed in two world cup slopestyle events in Aspen, Colorado, and then Silvaplana, Switzerland.

By John Tonin on April 5, 2021

Yukon freestyle skier Etienne Geoffry-Gagnon’s season has come to an end after he competed in two world cup slopestyle events in Aspen, Colorado, and then Silvaplana, Switzerland.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was a season like no other for Geoffroy-Gagnon. It was filled with uncertainty and lacked the consistency of events like the season’s past.

Geoffroy-Gagnon vied in Aspen on March 18, where he finished 13th in qualifying but did not make it to the finals. His overall placing was 20th.

He got the call that he’d be competing in Colorado shortly before the event commenced. This, he said, put him at a big disadvantage.

“I flew in and did one day of training,” said Geoffroy-Gagnon. “I didn’t get to ski the course a lot and that was a big disadvantage. Aspen is always tough, it is on par with (Mount) Sima.

“I was there for two days and got maybe 10 laps in total. That’s not much at all, it was pretty challenging.”

Despite the challenges, Geoffroy-Gagnon still managed to land his run in qualifications.

“I put a run down and got an 82 but that wasn’t enough for finals,” he said. “Still, it landed me in the top 20.”

He had a short turn-around before he made the trip across the Atlantic to Switzerland.

Geoffroy-Gagnon skied in Silvaplana on March 26th – once again in slopestyle. While there, he finished 10th in qualifications but missed out on the finals.

His overall position was 18th. Geoffroy-Gagnon believed the score he got in qualifications, had he been in heat two, would have landed him in the finals.

“It (Silvaplana) was the hardest course of the season,” said Geoffroy-Gagnon. “I put down a run how I wanted to do. You don’t always get the points you want but it is a judged sport. It’s not always fair but that is sports.

“I was happy to be healthy and go out there and put down a run. It was disappointing to not make the finals.”

Geoffroy-Gagnon is back in Whitehorse now, completing the mandatory two-week self-isolation. Now that he is back home, he has had time to reflect on how the season has gone.

“This season was a s—t-show,” he said. “I’m just happy to have a spot on the team for next year, although my Canadian ranking did go down.

“The courses I liked were cancelled. There was no France, Italy, Mammoth (California), or Calgary, it was difficult.”

Last year, before the COVID-19 pandemic came into full swing, Geoffroy-Gagnon saw the best results of his world cup career, all top 10 finishes, at those courses.

Before the Aspen world cup contest, the World Championships, which had originally been slated for Calgary, were hosted at the same venue. Geoffroy-Gagnon did not get the invite to compete there.

“Not making the World Championships was hard on my confidence,” Geoffroy-Gagnon said. “The start of the season didn’t go how I wanted it to go, but again, it isn’t always fair but that is sports.

“I would have liked to have done more and shown what I got.”

Once a season gets underway, Geoffroy-Gagnon said it is non-stop. With all the waiting, he said it made this season tough.

“This season was hard,” he said. “Usually you are on the road and it is go-go-go. There was a lot of sitting around, waiting.

“You’d go to an event and it wouldn’t go your way and you’d have to think about it, a lot.”

Without the usual structure, Geoffroy-Gagnon said he felt lost at times.

“In other seasons, through February and March you’d be in a different place,” said Geoffroy-Gagnon. “This year, I felt like I was floating around and not on the slopes as much, not prepping.

“I was not the best athlete I could be, it was weird to not train and it was weird to have two contests (Aspen, Silvaplana) come out of nowhere.”

Despite the challenges, Geoffroy-Gagnon is taking things in stride.

“This was a big learning experience,” said Geoffroy-Gagnon. “I’ll still have events at the end of this year before the Olympics. The year has flown by but I am going to learn as much as I can from it.

“I’m not in the top four Canadians at the moment. Next year, I’m really going to have to go for it.”

Geoffroy-Gagnon is now back in Whitehorse. He is hoping that after his self-isolation is over, there will still be snow at Mount Sima so he can get some more runs in before it is all gone.

As for the summer’s training plan, Geoffroy-Gagnon said that is still up in the air.

“I’m not sure yet what the plan is,” said Geoffroy-Gagnon. “We will see what the team wants to do in putting a plan together.”

For now, he said he is going to enjoy his time at home.

“I’m going to work on getting healthy and establishing a routine,” said Geoffroy-Gagnon. “I’ll get in the gym and focus on the spots that I can control.

“I just want to get back and enjoy skiing again.”

Geoffroy-Gagnon’s first competition of the season happened in Stubai, Austria in November. There, he hit all his runs but did not qualify for finals finishing in 30th.

By his own admission, the Stubai contest did not go how he had planned.

“It didn’t go how I wanted,”Geoffroy-Gagnon told the Star in January. “I was bummed about it.”

The second competition of the season was January 7-8 in Kreischberg, Austria – this time in the big air contest.

He placed 37 in the event, but he was happy with that performance. Big air, he said is not his focus instead he focuses more so on slopestyle.

“I skied super-well and I am happy,” said Geoffroy-Gagnon in January.

“I landed all three of my jumps. I landed the best two tricks that I have done.”

Geoffroy-Gagnon would have competed in World Championships in Calgary at the Winsport’s Canada Olympic Park.

But on Jan. 20 they were announced as cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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