Whitehorse Daily Star

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SUPER SILVER – Mavik MacKinnon shows off a silver medal he won in Slopestyle at the Timber Tour Feb. 26 at Fernie, B.C.

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FRONT FLIP – Mavik MacKinnon executes a front flip during the moguls competition Feb. 25 during the Timber Tour at Fernie, B.C.

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TERRIFIC TRAINING – Mavik MacKinnon in training in Fernie on Feb. 25 for the Slopestyle competition.

Mavik MacKinnon strikes silver in Fernie, B.C.

Mavik MacKinnon has come home from a B..C Timber Tour freestyle ski series event with a podium placement.

By Freelancer on March 9, 2023

Mavik MacKinnon has come home from a B..C Timber Tour freestyle ski series event with a podium placement. At that event, held at Fernie Alpine Ski Resort Feb. 23-26, Mavik earned a silver medal in the Slopestyle discipline – his favourite discipline of the three.

It was also very exciting to learn that Mavik’s performance this year at these Timber Tour events, and his affiliation with, and support from the Freestyle Whistler team has earned him an invitation to compete at the B.C. Winter Games with ‘Zone 5’ (Vancouver/Coastal).

At the Timber Tours, the Super Youth category is for skiers 5-13 and is where Mavik won the three silver medals in the U12 category at the B.C. freestyle ski championships at Whistler-Blackcomb last year. Now 12 years old this year, he could have entered Super Youth U14, but chose to enter the higher level of Timber Tour U14 to challenge himself rather than being more confident in coming home with medals.

At the first Timber Tour of 2023 in late January at Sun Peaks, Mavik placed 11th in Big Air, ninth in Moguls and first in Slopestyle, a gold medal in his preferred discipline! We are now just back from the second Timber Tour of 2023 – this one hosted by the Fernie Freestyle Ski Club – where he ranked 10th in Big Air, sixth in moguls and second in Slopestyle, for another silver medal!

At Sun Peaks in January, we observed that the competition is much higher in the Timber Tour, with many athletes doing inverted tricks – which require prior certification to execute in Freestyle Canada-sanctioned events such as these. Mavik is self-taught in much of what he does on skis, including front flips and off-axis front flips (‘Mistys’), but he still has not had access to the local airbag, so was not certified. However, with no airbag access and the incredible support that he has been getting from the Freestyle Whistler club, we chose to send him to Whistler for a few days of airbag training prior to the Fernie Timber Tour.

Finally, Mavik was able to hit an airbag for training – for the first time ever! Airbag training was going very well, with multiple certifications earned in just one day, but unfortunately a minor injury the following morning led to a few days off, so we had to cancel the second day of training.

The weather in Whistler was mild and accommodating except for the visibility, but Fernie was very different. We arrived there with several days of -25 to -30°C predicted. The first day was a training day and was tolerable for a Yukoner – perhaps an advantage – but the cold snow was not for such a light athlete (speed is necessary, particularly for Big Air training and events). The cold weather also led to delayed lift start times, shorter training periods, and changes to the scheduling of the events. Wind was also a major factor.

Big Air was the first event on the Friday after the typical Thursday open training. This was perhaps the most challenging event, with slow snow and head winds during Thursday training, followed by tail winds and delayed chairlift opening on competition day.

Mavik, with his recent airbag training, decided on a Misty 720 as his trick for the competition. He executed a couple of these fairly well in the demanding training conditions, but struggled with the wind and slow snow on his two comp runs. He landed one reasonably well, and ended up placing 10th.

Competition day two featured moguls with a steep course and a long middle section between two jumps mid-course, as is the norm. The temperatures were rising and so were the winds, but fortunately wind was less of a factor for this competition. Mavik had only a couple of warm-up runs due to other categories occupying the course, but felt ready for it as he had a few runs the day before.

Moguls is about a 30-second event with mogul-mashing at speed alternating with aerial tricks of two jumps mid-course. There is scoring for the jump tricks (difficulty, execution, magnitude, etc.) and for moguls (technique, speed, etc.) and the points are determined by combining them. The competition is also fierce in moguls, with some teams that focus solely on moguls while routinely scoring low in other categories, but dominating moguls. For that reason, Mavik was very happy with a sixth place finish.

Slopestyle is typically three rails and three large jumps but this course had only two jumps, which was a challenge for Mavik – as he likes to do three (or four) different directions of rotation for higher scoring – at least a mental challenge. But that seems to be where he excels, strategizing and working the whole course for the highest scoring.

With a few competitors back from the Canada Cup that had kept them away from the Sun Peaks Timber Tour in January, Mavik was that much more focussed on how to come out on top. Again, it was windy and in the end he decided on a series of complex rails tricks that can score very high, followed by a 900 to switch 900 on the jumps, rather than inversion that may score higher, but could be more negatively affected by the wind. The judges seems to like his choices and execution as he ended up with the Silver medal against stiff competition – a fantastic way to end the competition!

There is one Timber Tour left in the season – the B.C. Championships at SilverStar in early April, but registrations were full within minutes of opening, so Mavik is on a wait list for that and is focused on the upcoming B.C. Winter Games in late March, where he will represent Vancouver/Coastal in U14.

Of course, in our hearts, we all know he is representing the Yukon whenever he competes!

We want to express deep gratitude to Freestyle Whistler for their ongoing support and to local National Freestyle Team member Etienne Geoffroy-Gagnon for occasional local coaching when he is back in Whitehorse.

We are also grateful to Sport Yukon, Yukon Built and a growing circle of support from other Freestyle Ski teams in BC, and friends and family there too.

We continue to be hopeful for eventual access to the local airbag, as that is the key element of training that is missing for our athlete.

Nonetheless, Mavik has embraced and excelled in this sport and it seems that we are along for the ride and are thankful for that too!

– Submitted by Sean MacKinnon

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