Freewheeling skiers heading to Games
Alberta Winter Games: Moguls, slopestyle have athletes getting air
Wednesday, Feb 14, 2018 06:00 am
A quartet of skiers took a strange route to Wood Buffalo for the upcoming Alberta Winter Games. The road to Oil Sands country went via the Foothills, Pincher Creek area and Jasper.
Freestyle skiers Hugh McGregor, Ryder Brown, Annikah Tarrant and Chelsea Taylor are members of the Castle Mountain Freestyle Club out of Castle Mountain and qualified for the Games Feb. 16-19 thanks to their performance at Jasper’s Marmot Basin in January.
“At Jasper, I did really well, I got third overall in slopestyle and first for my zone,” said Taylor, a Grade 8 student at Heritage Heights. “I got really big air off my jumps, had a nice take off and good tricks.”
She took the conservative route for her two jumps in the slopestyle — that is if taking flight on skis can ever be classified as conservative.
“All I did was a safety grab and a spread-eagle,” said Taylor who will compete in the U16 division.
She was able to make her two tricky manoeuvres on the side-boxes.
Taylor also qualified in the moguls.
“I would rather do slopestyle,” Taylor said. “I have a –hard time going over the jump and then back in the moguls.”
Her goals for Fort Mac are to give it her best effort and be prepared for what Ma Nature throws at her.
“I’m expecting it to be cold,” she said.
Ryder Brown qualified for U14 moguls and slopestyle at the Games.
He’s of the Mikaël Kingsbury mode.
“I like the moguls the best,” the Okotoks Junior High School student said. “I like the feeling of the moguls hitting my skis.”
The mogul competition has the skier going straight down a hill, while his or her knees go up-and-down like pistons going between the bumps.
Oh, yeah, there’s also a pair of jumps thrown in along the way.
He just missed finishing third overall at Jasper, but he was good enough to secure a spot at Games.
“My jumps I am doing well, my best is a 360,” he said, while travelling down to Castle Mountain for some training on Thursday.
For the slopestyle, he has been working on his rails ever since the Jasper competition.
Hugh McGregor, a student at OJHS, was practicing last weekend at Castle for the upcoming games.
“I’m a little nervous, it’s a really big event,” said McGregor, a U14 freestyler.
He said he wants to improve on how he did in Jasper.
“I am more confident, my parents are helping me mentally prepare and it is helping a lot,” he said.
His best event is the slopestyle.
“On the jumps, I am planning to go with a double-daffy and a mute grab — you cross the front of your skis and grab one of them,” said McGregor, who has done both of those stunts in the past.
He said he can do well on the moguls, as he is a strong turner.
“Our coach has had me practice moguls without poles – that helps turning in the bumps,” he said.
Tarrant, a Grade 8 student at Cayley School, is also heading to the games in the slopestyle and moguls in the girls U14 division.
She prefers the quick-turning action of the bumps.
“I’m better at moguls,” Tarrant said. “You kind of get into the rhythm and then it gets easy.”
She’s ready for the jumps.
“On the first jump, I usually do a spread eagle or a daffy,” she said.
“On the second jump I do a spread eagle with a twister (flicking of the ski).
“After the jump, sometimes you hit the mogul full. You have to absorb it and then you can get back in the rhythm.”
She will use the KISS strategy in Wood Buffalo — Keep It Simple on Slopestyle. While she continues to develop new stunts for her jumps at practice, she will likely keep it simple.
“I’m excited, it’s going to be fun to meet everyone,” she said.
Because the Okotoks area athletes train out of the Pincher Creek area, they are competing for Zone 1.