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Column: Best showing ever, back on the podium

Mavik MacKinnon recounts success in freestyle ski competition in southern B.C.
Yukon freestyle skier Mavik MacKinnon on the podium for a moguls event at the Timber Tour #1 event at Panorama Ski Resort near Invermere, B.C. (Submitted)

Editor’s Note: This is the third of four columns from Yukon freestyle skier Mavik MacKinnon. This week he writes about the start of this competition season.

This year, I had a very exciting first ski competition of the season at the Panorama Ski Resort in the East Kootenays of B.C. It was the first of three freestyle ski competitions in the B.C. provincial competition circuit called the Timber Tour.

The action started before I even made it to Panorama. Our connecting flight from Vancouver to Calgary was cancelled preemptively due to a snowstorm, so I had to catch a last-minute flight right after school a day earlier than planned. Because of this, my dad and I had to spend a very unpleasant night sleeping in the Vancouver airport before our second flight to Calgary the following day. From there, we had a stormy four-hour drive through Banff and Kootenay national parks to Invermere and saw that multiple cars had hit the ditches during that storm. We have friends who live close to the mountain in the town of Invermere, and they generously let us stay there.

At the mountain, though, the conditions were perfect. It was also nice to see some of the friends I had made at competitions in previous years. My first day there was a training day for the events, which I was grateful for, since I hadn’t gotten to ski at Mt. Sima the week before due to a cold snap. That training enabled me to warm up for the events.

The next morning, we drove to the mountain for the moguls event that was happening that day. Moguls are a competition where the judges decide your final score based on a combination of your speed, your form in the moguls and your tricks on the two jumps. We don’t have an official moguls course in the Yukon, so I rarely practice for this event. For that reason, I was very surprised when, at the award ceremony at the end of the day, they called my name for third place—a bronze medal.

The following day, I had the slopestyle competition, which consisted of two large jumps and two rails on which the judges scored you. You get two runs in slopestyle, with the best of your two attempts counting. I felt a lot of pressure because this was the event I cared most about, and I thought I had to do better in this one than in moguls. Although my second run was not great, I was happy with my first run, and with it, I ranked second place, earning a silver medal—something I’ll admit I was pleased about.

The third and final day of competition was the big-air event. Due to not having much airbag training, this was not the event I was the best at, and there was lots of competition. In the big-air event, you do a major trick on one big jump, and your best score from your two runs counts. In freestyle skiing, you get more points if you grab your skis in the air while doing a spin or a flip. In my first run, I executed a grab during my trick, but unfortunately, one of my skis came off when I landed. During my second run, I landed the trick but only grabbed for a split second. This was disappointing, but I was satisfied with still landing in the top five, and I was happy for my friend Seamus, who placed second in the event.

Looking back, the third-, second- and fifth-place finishes in one competition are my best overall event ranking (maybe that fifth place in the big-air event wasn’t as detrimental as I thought!).

This was a memorable competition, and I look forward to the next Timber Tour, which will be held at Sun Peaks in late February. The scores from the second Timber Tour will decide the ranking and invitations for the Canadian Junior National competition, which will be held at Calgary Olympic Park in late March. See you on the slopes!

I am thankful for the support of local businesses, Winterlong and Yukon Built, for helping me with some of my training and competing expenses, Freestyle Whistler for the affiliation, support and coaching to compete at these great events and Mount Sima for providing me and the local community with an incredible terrain park. The Yukon Government and Sport Yukon also have great financial support for many athletes, but I want to give a special thanks to the Northern Lytes Youth Sport Development Fund for their support this year—thank you.

Mavik MacKinnon gets ready to ski on day two of the Timber Tour #1 event at Panorama Ski Resort near Invermere, B.C. (Submitted)