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Young freestylers learning during season

Latest Whistler Blackcomb Freestyle Ski Club stop was in Silver Star

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The Whistler Blackcomb Freestyle Ski Club hit the slopes at Silver Star on the weekend.

Though there was no hardware to be had at the Canadian Open Tour event, coach Chris Muir said the slopestyle athletes were still impressive going up against older and more experienced athletes.

"Everyone skied really, really well and the competition was pretty tough. There are a few athletes that would have liked to have probably done better," he said. "There were a lot of personal bests in terms of runs that were laid down and we're one of the youngest teams that are actually showing up at the moment, so personally, I'm very happy with how everyone skied."

In addition to the ages of the competitors, Muir also noted that challengers came from across Canada to grasp at gold.

"It's all the provincial teams from across Canada, so Quebec's there, Ontario's there, B.C. and Alberta. You're competing against a lot of 17-, 18-, 19-, 20-year-olds who are on the provincial team," he said.

From the local team's perspective, Muir was glad that the club attended, especially as many of the athletes got the chance to try elements that were bigger than they'd faced down before.

"The course was pretty good. It was quite big, especially for the ladies that showed up. They had never hit jumps that were that size before, so they did pretty fantastic," Muir said. "You couldn't ask for better conditions. It was sunny and minus-4 or minus-5 every day so the course stayed really nice and the kids got to go skiing in nice, beautiful, sunny weather every day."

On the women's side, Skye Clarke (seventh) and Josephine Howell (10th) just missed finals and set personal bests for the season.

As for the men, Whistlerite Luke Smart, now representing Team BC, placed seventh. Anders Ujejski was two spots away from finals, ultimately finishing 26th as the club's top finisher, while Kai Smart was 29th. Lastly, Kai Martin, Ben Lynch and Chase Ujejski were all back-to-back-to-back, finishing 39th through 41st, respectively.

After seeing such driven competitors, Muir hopes the local crew will keep pushing at their training and quickly climb up the tables.

"When we did our debrief with each athlete after the comp, each has a goal in mind to try to make finals and do what they need to do," he said.

Meanwhile, at Apex Mountain Resort, members of the moguls team were in action on the weekend.

On the women's side in moguls, Maya Mikkelsen and Ava Dunham made finals, placing 12th and 13th, respectively. Emma Bosco just missed, placing 15th, while Cassidy Butterworth ended up in 18th, Jessica Linton in 20th and Raine Haziza in 21st. Whistlerites representing other provinces dominated the podium as Sofiane Gagnon took the win, just ahead of Mackenzie Schwinghammer. Maia Schwinghammer, meanwhile, placed fourth.

In dual moguls, Gagnon won while Mackenzie Schwinghammer beat Maia Schwinghammer in the small final.

As for the men, Heejun Kim was the top club member, placing 13th, while Philip Kang was 30th. In dual moguls, Kim ended up in 11th and Kang was 36th.

Canadians hit FIS World Cup podium

On the world stage, Canadian slopestyle athletes brought home medals from the FIS World Cup in Font Romeu, France.

Alex Bellemare snagged third place in the men's event behind winner McRae Williams of the U.S. and Jesper Tjader of Sweden. Evan McEachran took 15th, Whistler's Teal Harle was 18th and Alex Beaulieu-Marchand ended up in 57th. As for the women, Anouk Purnelle-Faniel placed third while Whistler's Yuki Tsubota took seventh. Nikki Blackall ended up in 14th and Dara Howell 16th.

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