Sports » Features

Gagnon hits podium during selections

Moguls skier gets early-season boost



Sofiane Gagnon shone at Canadian Selections earlier this month.

The Whistler moguls skier will be looking to carry that forward as the season progresses in 2017.

At the first Canadian event of the season at Apex Mountain Resort in mid-December, Gagnon was less than two points off the pace set by winner Valerie Gilbert, taking a total of 76.86 to Gilbert's 78.67 on the first day of action. Her score slipped only slightly the next day, but a pair of competitors charged past her to bump the Podium of Life Academy student to fourth.

"I was really happy. I thought I skied well. On the first day, I came in second and on the second day, I actually won qualifications and ended up in fourth after finals runs, but I'm really happy with the weekend overall," she said. "Knowing what didn't work for me last year, working all summer and knowing my weaknesses and working really hard, I really thought it paid off and made my coach really happy."

In addition to serving as the Canadian Selections for the NorAm Cup circuit — where Gagnon will now appear for a third consecutive year when it starts in February — the events kicked off the Canada Cup season. Competitors will accumulate points and Gagnon hopes to rustle up enough to put herself in the national team conversation for 2017-18.

"I'm just really happy and I'm one step closer to getting on the national team next year. This is my third year on the NorAm circuit, so I'd be really disappointed if I didn't get a spot this year, but I'm really happy that I got one now," she said.

Stops on this year's NorAm Tour are at: Killington, Vt.; Val St. Come, Que.; Northstar California Resort; and Apex Mountain Resort. After making it into the top 16 of half of her NorAm events last season, Gagnon is looking to crack the top 8 on the regular going forward into 2016-17.

"I had a really good past season, but I have some more challenges going this year. Last year, I got two finals out of the four NorAms. This year, I'm going to try to get into superfinals. That's one of my goals for the season and hopefully I'll meet them," she said.

After an offseason in which she spent plenty of time at the gym, improved her nutrition and concentrated on mental training, she feels ready to make a jump. Gagnon will return to Apex Mountain Resort in the New Year for her next event in mid-January and is thrilled to spend so much time there early in the season.

"I'm really excited. They've received a lot of snow and I feel really confident and comfortable on that course," she said. "There's not usually a moguls course built in Whistler so the Apex course is the course I train on. I've been training on Apex for a long time and it always just goes very well and feels really nice."