Etienne Geoffroy-Gagnon’s dream season has come to an end and even a broken thumb and a missed event couldn’t detract from the impressive results for the Whitehorse freestyle skier.
Over the last two weeks of March, Geoffroy-Gagnon made his World Cup debut, won a Canada Cup event, won the Canada Cup, won the Toyo Cup, broke his thumb and finished third in the NorAm Cup.
Geoffroy-Gagnon travelled to Quebec for the men’s big air World Cup event on March 22, for both his first time in a World Cup setting and on a scaffold jump.
Rather than taking place on a traditional ski hill, the Quebec City event was held in the city itself. A wood structure formed the jump and landing. Builders covered it with snow trucked in from ski resorts.
“That ended up being pretty crazy for me for sure, being the first World Cup event,” said Geoffroy-Gagnon, who explained that while he has been focused on slopestyle this season, big air was always fun.
“It’s not as stressful — there is only one jump — and that jump being a scaffolding jump in the middle of downtown Quebec is definitely a little challenging.”
Geoffroy-Gagnon performed one of his go-to jumps, a double 1080, and finished 13th in qualifying.
“I was doing a double 1080 and most of the pros and everyone that made it to finals were doing double 1440s and stuff like that,” said Geoffroy-Gagnon. “I’ve definitely got some work to do, but my focus for the season was the slopestyle and I’ve been doing well in that. This was some icing on the cake.”
Not qualifying for the finals meant Geoffroy-Gagnon could make the trip to Stoneham for the final Canada Cup slopestyle event of the season.
He qualified in third and remained there after the first run of the finals.
“I was looking for something to up my run and didn’t really plan on having to do anything more in the finals because I thought it would be enough,” said Geoffroy-Gagnon. “So I ended up just thinking up a trick with my coaches and seeing what I could do better and tried to add a couple things here and there, and I ended up landing one of my best runs of the season.”
His 96.40 on his last run was enough to secure a win in the event, as well as first overall in the Canada Cup slopestyle standings and first in the Toyo Cup freestyle standings.
“I had to do a little bit more, but it was worth going for it and I ended up getting the overall, so that was definitely another great thing that day. Stoked to come through for all of those events.”
Although the Canada Cup was the initial goal for the year, strong results on the NorAm Cup circuit had Geoffroy-Gagnon as the leader heading into the final event likely only needing a top 15 finish at Le Relais.
Unfortunately, a broken thumb in training meant he never had the chance to compete.
Still nursing an ankle injury that has bothered him for most of the season, Geoffroy-Gagnon said he was trying to save wear and tear on his ankle when he broke his thumb after falling on the last rail of a training run.
“I was trying to avoid hurting my ankle too badly, so I fell a little weirder than I would usually,” said Geoffroy-Gagnon.
When he looked down at his hand, it didn’t look good.
“My thumb was pointing the wrong way, the size of a tennis ball and right away I knew something was up.”
X-rays of the injury showed competing was out of the question.
“I needed surgery for the next day,” said Geoffroy-Gagnon. “I couldn’t have surgery and do the competition at the same time, so I had to sit that one out.”
That meant he was forced to watch as two skiers leapfrogged him in the overall standings.
“All they needed pretty much was a top four to jump ahead of me. They skied really well and they pulled through,” said Geoffroy-Gagnon. “It was still obviously something I never thought was even possible — going to the podium for the overall.”
“It felt good to still get third even after missing a full event.”
Geoffroy-Gagnon’s other big goal for the season, aside from the Canada Cup, was to secure a spot on the NextGen team with Team Canada — something he’ll find out definitively in the coming weeks.
“I’m definitely going to need the next month and a half to rest up my ankle and my thumb, and after that I’ll be heading straight to Whistler to work on the glacier once again,” said Geoffroy-Gagnon. “NorAm level to World Cup level is a pretty big jump, so [there are] definitely lots of things I need to work on. I’ll be pretty motivated to come after those big guys for once.
“It feels good to be able to go into the off-season knowing there isn’t much more I could have done.”
Contact John Hopkins-Hill at email@example.com