Yukon freestyle skier Etienne Geoffroy-Gagnon has spent his summer preparing for the upcoming World Cup season and a possible shot at an Olympic berth.
In the 2019 season, Geoffroy-Gagnon saw some of the best finishes of his career – putting together a string of top 10 finishes.
During the next season, Geoffroy-Gagnon said it didn’t go as he had planned. The unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic and poor results made the 2020 season less than ideal.
In preparation for the new season, Geoffroy-Gagnon said he took some time away from skiing to get a “much-needed reset.”
“I took a mental break after a tough season last year,” said Geoffroy-Gagnon who is currently in Austria. “I spent the summer in the gym and less time on skis. That’s been different than past years. I spent time biking and hiking and spent it away from the scene.
“It helped me re-up my motivation.”
For the last month, Geoffroy-Gagnon has been in Europe training for the upcoming competitions. He said he’s felt the best he’s had in a long time on skis.
Since being back on the slopes, Geoffroy-Gagnon said he’s been focusing on only a few tricks he plans to use in World Cup competitions.
“(In training) we’ve been focusing on contests and what I want to do this season,” said Geoffroy-Gagnon. “I’ve been training three tricks for slopestyle and two for big air.
“I’m focusing on the tricks I know I’ll be doing. It’s a big change compared to other seasons. Other seasons I was figuring out tricks I could do.”
Only practicing a few tricks, Geoffroy-Gagnon, does come with some added stress.
“Focusing on competition runs is more stressful,” said Geoffroy-Gagnon. “I’m doing my scarier stuff but hopefully once the competitions come around it will all be second nature.”
Geoffroy-Gagnon said he’s also been working on knowing what runs will look like before he arrives at a competition.
The first contest of the season will begin on Nov. 20 in Stubai, Austria. There will be two more events before Christmas and then two more before the Olympics.
Geoffroy-Gagnon said six Canadian skiers will attend each event. Based on the results from the competitions, four will be chosen for the Olympic squad.
“I’m ranked sixth out of the group so I definitely have to put it all out there,” said Geoffroy-Gagnon. “I have to ski my best, it’s not impossible, I’ve worked really hard to get this.
“It all comes down to who is skiing the best before the Games.”
The challenge to make the Olympic roster is only amplified because the other Canadian skiers have been “skiing great.”
“It will be up to me to perform,” said Geoffroy-Gagnon. “I’ve done what I can do up to this point and I’m confident in myself. It’s go time.”
Making the Olympic team is a big goal, but outside the Games, Geoffroy-Gagnon said he wants to keep making finals in World Cup events.
“I’m always gunning for the podium and then I just want to build confidence, learn, and get better,” said Geoffroy-Gagnon.
The Canadian team, Geoffroy-Gagnon said, will be bringing one big air specialist and three slopestyle specialists.
“That’s good for me because I have focused more on slopestyle,” said Geoffroy-Gagnon.
With the first competition a month away, Geoffroy-Gagnon said he’s ready to go.
“I’m excited to get going,” said Geoffroy-Gagnon. “Last month I’ve been getting ready and pushing myself every day I’m ready to show everyone what I’ve been working on.
“Good or bad, it’s happening regardless.”
After the first three competitions, Geoffroy-Gagnon said he’ll be back in the Yukon and hopes to give lessons to some of the territory’s young skiers.
Contact John Tonin at email@example.com