Grande Prairie, Alberta
Some first-time Arctic Winter Games participants from the Yukon will be leaving with more than happy memories and competition experience at the end of the week - they will be taking home hardware too.
With only four freestyle skiers representing the Yukon in Grande Prairie, Alberta, after just one day of competition, two have already climbed podium steps.
In the opening slopestyle event, Yukon’s Miguel Rodden took silver and teammate Anna Smith won bronze.
“(Rodden) had a great day and was really consistent,” said Yukon freestyle head coach Stuart Robinson. “He really threw down some big tricks on his last run and that’s what gave him the silver.”
With only the best of four runs counting towards points, Rodden accumulated 38.6 points, hitting a 270 on a switch up and a 450 off of both rails and landing a huge 720 off the larger of the two course jumps
“So there was lots and lots of spinning on that course,” said Robinson. “It was really good.”
Separating herself from the competition, Smith was the only female skier to use the metal rails instead of the box apparatuses and was the only one to launch off the big jump. Taking a fall during her run, Smith ended with 15.7 points.
“She was attempting 360s on the big jump, but she was having hard time,” said Robinson. “But she was competing at the guy level and it was awesome.”
Competing in the female division with only two other skiers, Smith was guaranteed a medal, but she was definitely in contention for one of any colour, said Robinson.
“Had she landed her 360s, she would have easily have won,” he said. “I’m certain that for the rest of the competition she’ll be charging hard just like she did today.”
Landing his first 720 in competition, Yukon’s James Boyle took seventh in the male division with 30.9 points.
“He should have been right in there for third,” said Robinson.
Yukon’s Anatole Tuslak also reached the top 10 with 26.7 points, landing him one spot behind Boyle.
Although not competing, Yukon’s Sebastian Berthiaume gave a big air demonstration as the course forerunner. Known by officials as a force in freestyle skiing, Berthiaume was unable to attend the Arctic Games team trials in Whitehorse last year because of a broken collarbone, but was invited to test the terrain as an experienced skier.
As for taking home competition experience, both medal winners will be building off their successes in Grande Prairie as they head to the BC Championships in Lone Star at the start of April.
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