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Gagnon earns dual moguls title

Nationals a stepping stone to junior worlds

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Sofiane Gagnon had outgrown her age category within Canada and certainly put an exclamation point on that last weekend.

Gagnon captured the national dual moguls title at the Canadian Championships at Val St-Come, Que., by knocking off defending champion Alex-Anne Gagnon in the finals.

Fellow Whistler residents Raine Haziza and Maia Schwinghammer also made the top 10 in fifth and seventh, respectively.

Gagnon was just off the podium in singles action, taking a fourth-place finish as World Cup skier Andi Naude zipped away with the win. Even up against that kind of class, Gagnon feels she was capable of snagging medals in both.

"In singles moguls the day before, I was focusing too much on the outcome and the results. I think that overwhelms me and I didn't perform as well as I could have, so on the duals day, I just focused on my current dual and getting to the next round," she said. "I'm just trying to make it again and again and make it as far as I can.

"I didn't have a great head state on singles day and I didn't perform as well as I could have, and then I changed it because I didn't want my head to control my performance."

Being able to stack up relatively well against a competitor like Naude provided some confidence in retrospect, though Gagnon stressed she did her best just to focus on her own skiing and what she could control.

"I'm not focusing on who I'm competing against or the outcome or anything else, (I'm) just performing my best," she said. "This was a pretty high-level competition compared to other events this season. I'm starting my hardest every single run no matter who I'm competing against."

Gagnon noted she enjoyed the Quebec course, though it was difficult to get a handle on the first few times down.

"It was a really good course and a great, sunny day and a good day for competition, but even if it's a bad course, it's the same course for everyone so there's no point complaining. This time, we were lucky and it was a really good course," she said.

"It was really steep and it was kind of hard for a lot of people, including myself. Everyone tried to go slower because it's such a steep hill.

"We were really conservative for qualifications and then we had to really push it for duals."

Over the course of the season, Gagnon has tried to add a little more flair to her showings. She said she can traverse the humps and bumps just fine, but adding the cherry on top has been key.

"I'm a lot better at moguls and it's moguls that get me the good results. I don't get as good of a score for my jumps in my results," she said. "I (made them) cleaner, bigger and just tried to present the cleanest airs."

It's been a strong year for Gagnon, who leads the Canada Cup standings and is tied for third in the Toyo Cup tally. She's also qualified to represent Canada at the FIS Freestyle Junior World Championships in Valmalenco, Italy, next month.

"I'm going to remember all the things I did right to prepare for my good result on Sunday and try to do the same thing at junior worlds so I can give myself the best chance of getting a good result there," she said.

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