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Kelly helps Canada to Nations Cup

West Coast athletes boosting Canadian moguls efforts

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Pemberton moguls skier Brenden Kelly had certainly made contributions to Canada's other Nations Cup wins at the end of past FIS World Cup seasons.

But this year's victory was the first time he'd been around to enjoy it.

This year, Kelly competed in a career-high nine World Cup events and also qualified for the World Ski Championships in Utah. The 23-year-old, whose first World Cup start came in January 2015, set a new personal best with a 10th-place finish at Thaiwoo, China in December and was thrilled to contribute more to the squad this season.

"I wasn't keeping up with the results and the standings throughout the season. I was just focusing on my own skiing and what I could do to give my best performance," he said.

Kelly recalled that the final dual slalom in Kazakhstan was cancelled because of cloudiness, so after the singles event, Canada claimed the crown.

"After that, we looked at the standings and we saw there was no way that anyone could beat us because they weren't going to hold a contest that day," he said. "Everyone was pretty excited and feeling pretty positive from that."

Winning the Cup was also a chance for the team to say goodbye to Phil Marquis, a 10-year veteran who is retiring this season.

"(He) was the first to get the Cup," Kelly said. "It was really cool to see him receive the Cup for all of us and then pass it around. We filled it up with champagne and it was awesome."

With Marquis' retirement, Mikaƫl Kingsbury will serve as team captain beginning next year, but Kelly will look to take on a leadership role as well.

"As I'm becoming one of the older athletes on the team, one of the more senior athletes on the team, it's time to start investing in my other teammates, leading them and helping them achieve their goals because ultimately, that's going to help me achieve mine," he said.

On a personal level, Kelly was happy with his development, but hopes to reach higher heights in future years.

"That top-10 in China was really cool and really special to me. I kept working hard throughout the rest of the season and unfortunately couldn't get a result as good as that one," he said. "I got a 15th in Tremblant, which allowed me to qualify for World Championships."

Kelly also gave shoutouts to Sofiane Gagnon and Maia Schwinghammer, both of whom have come up through Freestyle Whistler's training. Gagnon missed the Kazakhstan event after tearing her ACL in Japan, while Schwinghammer, just 17, had a solid performance in three World Cups and the World Ski Championships. Though they weren't celebrating in Kazakhstan, Kelly said competing alongside them at Worlds was the next best thing.

"It was cool to have three athletes from Whistler be there together, all competing in moguls," he said. "It was super unique since it's a tough sport with so many good East Coast skiers. It was awesome to see a bunch of West Coasters there representing."

Kelly said that moguls training in B.C. is improving from the club level right up to the provincial team. If the National Training Centre, which is proposed to be built on Blackcomb Mountain, secures its funding and is completed, it would be a further boon for local moguls athletes.

"If that can get off the ground, that would be super exciting for our community," he said. "It would get more training for athletes from all over North America and it's really cool to have lots of teams and lots of athletes train in one centralized location because it just builds more development and more progression in the sport."

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