Etienne Geoffroy-Gagnon, seen here during the big air competition at Simapalooza 2017, is guaranteed three slopestyle World Cup appearances this season as part of Freestyle Canada’s NextGen team. (Tom Patrick/Yukon News file)

Whitehorse’s Geoffroy-Gagnon ready for first World Cup season

“It’s definitely going to be different — bigger courses, bigger competitions”

Etienne Geoffroy-Gagnon got a taste of the World Cup last season, and this summer the Freestyle Canada NextGen skier has been hard at work to ensure he makes the most of his World Cup appearances.

“That’s fully the focus for now,” said Geoffroy-Gagnon. “At this point, it’s World Cup because now if I perform well at a World Cup, it’s really a game-changer for me.”

There are six slopestyle World Cup events this year, and Geoffroy-Gagnon is only guaranteed three, with the remainder of the spots up for competition among all the team members.

“(W)hoever is performing the best will get a spot,” said Geoffroy-Gagnon. “So that’s definitely something new that I’ve never really had to do — really competing for that spot — and having that kind of put some fire in my eyes because everyone trains and competes to be able to do those World Cups.”

Geoffroy-Gagnon ended last season as the overall winner of the Canada Cup and was third in the NorAm Cup overall standings despite a broken thumb sidelining him from the final event.

The thumb injury came as a result of trying to overcompensate for an ankle injury earlier in the season, but the good news is those woes seem to be behind him.

“My ankle is all fixed up — I got rid of that injury,” said Geoffroy-Gagnon. “And my thumb as well is all healed up. I skied all summer in Whistler and my body was feeling really good.”

When the News caught up with Geoffroy-Gagnon, he was at a training camp with Team Canada in Switzerland, training alongside other NextGen athletes and the World Cup group.

“I’ve been changing teams a lot the last four years, so it’s kind of just another team for me,” said Geoffroy-Gagnon. “It’s nice to be surrounded by a group of people that are really into the sport and definitely push each other and push me.”

While the runs he has been able to put together so far in his career were enough to get him to the world stage, he said the biggest adjustment this season will be getting to a point where he is able to be competitive and start making some finals.

“It’s definitely going to be different — bigger courses, bigger competitions,” said Geoffroy-Gagnon. “I’m going to be looking to get experience in those. Obviously, I want to land runs and I want to do well, but as of now I kind of still have to figure out what needs to be done in these kind of competitions and go back and train for that.”

A winning run at a NorAm event, explained Geoffroy-Gagnon, is maybe enough to make it into the finals of a World Cup.

“The level really jumps up,” said Geoffroy-Gagnon. “Instead of, say, doing one double in a run and doing well at a NorAm, here you would do three doubles in a run and maybe not make it into finals.”

Getting his doubles “dialed in” has been a priority during the off-season, as well as learning some even bigger airs.

“A lot of people are doing triples in some runs, so I just learned that and (am) going to be trying to put that into my run. That’ll be just putting it all on the table for qualifications for me this season.”

Other than the World Cup, Geoffroy-Gagnon will also be competing in the NorAm Cup this winter where he will be looking to improve on his third-place finish last season.

“That’s kind of secondary, but I would definitely like to focus on maybe getting a win at the overall this year,” said Geoffroy-Gagnon.

The first World Cup slopestyle event is Nov. 22 to 24 in Stubai, Austria, and won’t be one of Geoffroy-Gagnon’s guaranteed starts although he will be there and ready to go should something change.

“There’s still a lot that can happen, but as of now I don’t have a spot for that one, but I will be going to do the training,” said Geoffroy-Gagnon. “It’s kind of a big one — the first one of the season where everyone goes — so I’m going to wait it out and see what happens for that one.”

The remaining slopestyle World Cup events for this season are in 2019, with two events in January and four in March.

Slopestyle remains the main discipline for Geoffroy-Gagnon but with big air added to the Olympics, he said that’ll be on his radar as well.

“I’ll be doing some big air as well,” said Geoffroy-Gagnon. “I’ll definitely be looking at that a bit more but focusing on slopestyle and doing the big air event for fun.”

Geoffroy-Gagnon is now enjoying some time off here in Canada following his training in Switzerland before heading back to Europe in preparation for the start of the season.

“It’s definitely been one of the most productive camps I’ve ever had,” said Geoffroy-Gagnon. “(I’m) pretty happy with how my body feels and how I’ve been skiing.”

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

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