Arctic Winter Games trials failed to lure a complete freestyle ski team to Mt. Sima on Sunday.
Still, expectations are high.
“We are very pleased, said Odette Poirier, vice-president of the Yukon Freestyle Ski Association. “We have a very strong team.
“We went to Whistler, (BC,) before Christmas. We trained with a team there and they were very impressed because, compared to down south, we don’t have that many days to train (in a season). There, they can train up to 60 or 70 days. Here with Mt. Sima, it’s like 22-25 days.
“I think we have a good chance to come back with something. I know Grand Prairie has a big, strong team, but I think we have a chance.”
The Yukon is allowed to send six freestyle skiers (three boys and three girls) to the Games, but only four boys and one girl hit the slopes Sunday. However, since this will be the first time freestyle competition ever held at the Games, the Yukon Freestyle Ski Association is hoping to send a team of five or six, with more than three boys.
“At this point we are talking with the Arctic Games committee about possibly making some changes,” said Team Yukon coach Stu Robinson. “Because it’s a new sport for the Arctic Winter Games, we’re hoping for flexibility.
“We had one other athlete who was injured,” added Robinson, referring to skier Sebastian Poirier. “Sebastian has a broken collar bone, but he will be at the selection camp. We’re just waiting to hear from his doctor.”
The five skiers, who are already teammates with the Yukon Freestyle Ski Association, have all received invitations to a training camp from which the final Games team will be selected.
After a morning of “big air” jumps and a rail competition in the afternoon, Miguel Rodden, 16, was at the top of the grading, completing a 720 mute and a 540 mute for the “big air” segment of the trials.
“For the first run I just had a mellow, easy run to be conservative,” said Rodden of the rail segment. “For the second run I hit the first rail (in a) switch (stance) and did a 270 off the second rail. I hit the third rail straight and did a 270 to the last box.
“They were some of my better tricks.”
“In the rails he had an amazing run,” said Robinson. “(He performed) a multitude of tricks and switch hits, so he had a really strong rail demonstration for sure.”
Second overall was Anatole Tuzlak, landing a 180 and 540 in the big air. On the rails, Tuzlak wowed judges with a series of switch hits and 270 rotations on and off.
Giving a strong performance from the start, James Boyle was third with a series of tidy runs.
“James had really clean airs today – he went with 360s and 180s,” said Robinson. “Some guys really amped it up on the second run – sometimes it paid off, sometimes it crashed.
“But James’ first solid run really got him going.
“In the rails he was really smooth – a little more conservative – but because of that he scored well.”
Completing a rocket air and a lu kang grab, along with some 180s in the big air section of the trials, Travis Wilson came fourth in the judging.
“He had some good attempts in the rails and was trying hard,” said Robinson.
Anna Smith, the only girl in the trails, not only impressed the judges, she showed the boys a thing or two on the rails.
“She was hitting it hard today,” said Robinson. “She just started doing 360s – and she did her first 360s in competition.
“In the rails she was wowing the guys.
“She had a little bit of trouble in her first run, but her second run was amazing, so she was really hitting it hard in the second run – landing switch, hitting full length rails and riding fast.”
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