Freestyle skiers hit the water ramp

It's the kind of sport that puts lumps in the throats of spectators.

It’s the kind of sport that puts lumps in the throats of spectators. But long before aerial freestyle skiers are launching themselves three storeys high, performing more twists and turns than John Grisham novel, they practise in a much more forgiving environment.

Five members of the Yukon Freestyle Ski Association team were doing just that over the last week.

Travelling to Grande Prairie, Alberta, last week and returning Tuesday evening, the five Yukoners received some top-notch coaching on a “water ramp” at the Nitehawk Ski Area, the location of the ski and snowboard events at last March’s Arctic Winter Games.

“It was a really great experience, I learned a lot of things, I met some new people and I feel like a better skier from the experience,” said Yukon skier James Boyde. “It was super fun and I enjoyed myself.”

Removing the death-defying aspect of the sport, the Yukoners were skiing down a ramp, covered with bristles that replicate snow, launching off a ramp and landing in a pool. To soften the landing in the water – to mitigate the splat that comes with bad landings – air bubbles are released from the bottom of the pool to remove some denseness from the water.

Making the trip with Boyde were Anna Smith, Miguel Rodden, Anatole Tuzlak, and Sebastien Berthiaume, who inspired the trip by attending a training camp there last year.

“He had such a great experience there, that five of them went this year,” said ski association president Loree Stewart.

“You have to do them on water first, and then you get certified. Then you get certified on snow and then you can compete.

“In a competition, you couldn’t do a back flip if you’re not certified.”

Although none of the Yukoners earned certificates, they did come back knowing such tricks as cork 720s, D spins and rodeos.

“One of our athletes, Miguel, did a double back flip – Anatole did one as well,” said Boyde. “Anatole also did a kangaroo flip – two sideway flips, I guess you could say.”

Over their seven days practising at the water ramp, the Yukon skiers had three days with the head coach of the Northern Extreme Freestyle Ski Team, Chip Milner, from Alberta.

“He’s a really cool guy, and he had a lot of pointers for everyone,” said Boyde. “The private sessions with him, where it was just our team training with him, stand out to me because they were very productive for us.”

Surprisingly, the ramp in Grande Prairie was a better training facility than the one at the world famous resort Whistler Blackcomb, said Boyde, who has trained at both locations.

“This one is probably the best,” said Boyde. “In terms of my performance, and everyone else’s performance, our level of skill is much higher.”

At the Arctic Winter Games in March, Rodden won two silver medals in freestyle skiing and Smith won a bronze, two silver and a gold in the big air competition. Berthiaume, who was supposed to compete but was injured, still attended the Games as a course forerunner.

Smith went on to win a silver and bronze at the BC Freestyle Championship the following month.

Contact Tom Patrick at

tomp@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Are they coming?

One of COVID-19’s big economic questions is whether it will prompt a… Continue reading

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, along with Yukon health and education delegates, announce a new medical research initiative via a Zoom conference on Jan. 21. (Screen shot)
New medical research unit at Yukon University launched

The SPOR SUPPORT Unit will implement patient-first research practices

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate members Bill Bennett, community engagement coordinator and Mobile Therapeutic Unit team lead, left, and Katherine Alexander, director of policy and analytics, speak to the News about the Mobile Therapeutic Unit that will provide education and health support to students in the communities. (yfned.ca)
Mobile Therapeutic Unit will bring education, health support to Indigenous rural students

The mobile unit will begin travelling to communities in the coming weeks

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, speak during a live stream in Whitehorse on January 20, about the new swish and gargle COVID-19 tests. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Swish and spit COVID-19 test now available in Yukon

Vaccination efforts continue in Whitehorse and smaller communities in the territory

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

A file photo of grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. Yukon conservation officers euthanized a grizzly bear Jan. 15 that was originally sighted near Braeburn. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)
Male grizzly euthanized near Braeburn

Yukon conservation officers have euthanized a grizzly bear that was originally sighted… Continue reading

Most Read