What a time for Wei Tien Ho's first win of the season.
The Whistler Freeride Club (WFC) member came through in a big way at the IFSA North American Junior Freeride Championships in Golden on April 12. Ho gained momentum by qualifying first in the ski men's 12-to-14 category and carried it into the finals, where he scored a combined 69.27 to nick teammate and overall season champion Marcus Goguen's 67.60.
"I was pretty nervous. For (qualifiers), not so much, but then after I qualified first, I hadn't been that nervous in awhile at the top for finals," Ho said. "I dropped in and had an OK run ... After that, my nerves went away and I was super happy to be there. Watching my friends throw down after was super sick, too."
Ho sought to put down two steady runs, which helped him put up two very good and consistent scores. Even though Goguen put up the best single run of the contest with his second attempt, it wasn't quite enough to topple his teammate.
"For my finals run, I wanted to put down a solid run. It was a really wide face and we only had one inspection, so I had a bit of trouble picking a line," Ho said. "Once I picked a line, I was a bit nervous for some sections.
"(For the second run), my plans were to keep it solid, keep it clean to hold my spot."
Over the course of the week, Ho tamed two different faces to qualify first and to win the event. He also bested a plethora of new competitors, as there were plenty of talented American skiers he'd never seen before, in addition to stiff competition from B.C. and Alberta skiers with whom he was familiar.
"At NorAms, it's all the top guys, so it's a big deal," he said.
Ho also praised teammate Goguen, who had an excellent season and was strong throughout the contest.
"To be on the podium with him, I love it. It was super fun being with him. He had a sick run, so I'm stoked for him," Ho said.
Over the course of the season, Ho explained that he had some occasional struggles, especially in qualifiers, but regained confidence when he recovered in finals.
"There were a bit of ups and downs. My line still wasn't there the whole time, so I qualified, sometimes, low and had bobbles in (qualifiers)," he said. "I made a couple comebacks, which is nice, in finals."
Next season, Ho will graduate to the 15-to-18 category, and though he takes a boost in leaving the younger category on top, he knows he needs to put in work before making the jump for 2019-20.
"Watching the older boys, they're a lot stronger, so I've got to train harder. The runs they throw down are insane, so we'll see," he said.
Several other WFC riders did well, as Squamish resident Kayley Sherlock captured the ski women's 12-to-14 title while Sofia Guy and Drea Dimma were third and fourth, respectively.
In the 15-to-18 categories, no WFC riders podiumed, though there were top 10s on the men's side from Leif Gascoigne (fifth) and Ryder Bulfone (sixth), and on the women's side from Amber Mullings (sixth).
As for under-12 action, Floyd Guy topped the men's division while Brooke Hemstead was eighth amongst the women.
Full results are available online at www.freeskiers.org.