In a season in which she hopes to make some major strides, Sofiane Gagnon did just that in her first event of the season.
The 17-year-old took eighth in the moguls at a season-opening event at Perisher Ski Resort on Aug. 30 against strong competition like fellow Canadians Andi Naude and Maxime Dufour-Lapointe.
Gagnon, who studies with Podium of Life here in Whistler, explained she wasn't making any major changes to her approach, but just trying to take her skiing to its limits.
"I was just thinking about what results weren't working for me last time and what the judges weren't liking, points that I got knocked off from previous competitions," Gagnon said. "I really thought about what I had to do to help my score and so those points don't get knocked off.
"(I was) keeping the speed up, being tighter, doing higher jumps, (doing) everything bigger and better."
The competition, which was cut to one day from two because of inclement weather, happened about a week after Gagnon arrived. She then stayed at Perisher for two more weeks to prepare for the campaign.
"We were working on jumping and moguls. Usually, training camps are one or the other specifically, but this one was both," she said. "We had to get into it pretty quick and do the competition and then training happened afterwards."
The strong result is a boost for Gagnon, who posted a best result of sixth on the Nor-Am Cup circuit last season. She was also hoping for higher results at the FIS Junior Ski World Championships in Sweden last spring, as she posted a 17th-place finish in the dual moguls and 27th in moguls.
"I think this season's going to be strong. I think that I'm going to be a lot stronger this year. I was really happy with what I accomplished down in Australia and I came home with new goals. I'm more mentally prepared and more physically prepared. I'm training my body a lot smarter this year," she said. "I think this is going to be a better year for me."
Gagnon will soon head to Switzerland for a training camp and is set to practice and compete at Apex Mountain Resort when the campaign resumes in December.
"I'm looking forward to the events that are going to be here in B.C. just because it's my home hills, my home course and that's what I'm more comfortable in," she said. "(But) it's always fun to go elsewhere and see new resorts and new courses."