While financial difficulties have made the future of Whitehorse’s ski resort uncertain, the immediate future of Yukon’s freestyle ski team looks bright as they head into nationals.
Josh Harlow hit some big tricks to place third in the open amateur division at the Canadian Shield Ski and Snowboard Tour at Mount Seymour in North Vancouver, B.C. on Friday.
The 17-year-old is the first member of the Yukon Freestyle Ski Association’s competitive team to win a medal at a Canadian Shield event.
Though he stepped up his performance, he didn’t expect to step onto the podium.
“I was pretty surprised; I did not think I was going to make the podium,” said Josh. “I was aiming for top-six.
“I was pretty stoked. I was coming up to see who was on the podium and they called my name just as I got off the chair (lift), so I just ripped over.”
To place third in the slopestyle competition, Harlow did a backside 270 spin off the first two rails, with a grab on the second rail, and then hit a corked 900 on the first jump with a tail grab. Harlow went in switch to the second jump and hit a 720 with a mute grab. “My switch 720s – I haven’t been as comfortable with them,” said Harlow. “It was a new grab for me to do in a switch spin. That was the only thing that was different.
“Everything else I was just trying to do as clean as I could.”
Yukon teammate Etienne Geoffroy-Gagnon was another to make a final at Mount Seymour. Geoffroy-Gagnon grabbed fourth in the U15 division.
Geoffroy-Gagnon dropped in switch to a lipslide – the hard way – on the first rail followed by a backslide 450 on the turbo tube, landing switch. He landed a pair of switch 900s on the jumps.
“The landing wasn’t as clean and that’s why he got fourth,” said Yukon coach Steven Harlow. “He put his hands down there.”
“I couldn’t be happier,” he added. “The thing is, all the guys could have potentially done that well too. They all have the skill now, they all have the tricks. All of them have such a well-rounded base now, versus previous years. It’s crazy to see how good these guys have gotten within the last few weeks.”
The Yukon team almost had a third skier in a final. Dylan Reed placed 11th in the amateur open, missing a spot in the final by a single point.
Teammates Aidan Allen and Calahan Guidolin came 12th and 13th, respectively, in the open amateur division.
Yukon’s Kyran Allen placed 15th in the U15 division.
“Even the day after the comp we just finished, every guy progressed exponentially,” said Steven. “Every day we go out, these guys are getting better and better. So by the end of the month, I can’t even explain to you how good these guys are going to be competing.”
The Yukon team is currently preparing for the Junior Canadian Freestyle Ski Championship at the Apex Mountain Resort outside of Penticton, B.C. They will be competing in slopestyle on Thursday and big air on Saturday.
Josh placed 16th in slopestyle and 19th in the big air competition at last year’s junior nationals.
Though Josh is the first Yukon team member to medal at a Canadian Shield event, last year former Yukon skier Miguel Rodden won a silver at a Canadian Shield event in Calgary, but not as a member of the Yukon team.
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