Mackenzie Schwinghamer of Team Alberta, was among several athletes who made the podium in the freestyle skiing aerials — despite only trying the sport a day ago.
“I’m happy to be in the Top 3 for an event that I’ve never trained, or competed in,” said Schwinghamer, with a wide grin.
The 19-year-old finished with a silver medal for her 109.38 points Sunday at the aerials competition for the 2019 Canada Winter Games, held at the Canyon Ski Resort.
The gold-medal winner was Flavie Aumond (121.91), and the third-place bronze finisher was Sandrine Vaillancourt (106.89). Both are from Quebec.
Schwinghamer said she found out only on Saturday after arriving in Red Deer for the 2019 Canada Winter Games, that some mogul skiers, who are used to doing multiple smaller jumps, would also be required to perform one big, 10-foot jump in the aerial event.
After only a few practice runs, she managed to pull off a near perfect jump in competition Sunday — “which is awesome,” said the skier, who only thinks she could have executed a neater kick-out.
“I felt very confident jumping… It was super fun.”
Although Schwinghamer doesn’t plan to switch her focus from moguls, she added aerials are “fun to do on the side.”
Schwinghamer, of Kelowna, began moguls training with the Alberta team four years ago because she liked the coaching better. The 19-year-old explained that she wanted to be coached by Rob Kober, who was behind Olympic gold-medal-winner Mikael Kingsbury.
As an aerials-focused skier, Aumond was a favourite and was happy that her training and experience paid off. The Quebec City-area skier said “I was hoping to win” and she reached that goal.
The gold medal winner for the male free-style skiing aerial event is Brayden Kuroda, of B.C. with 121.65 points, followed by second-place finisher Alex Mysko, of Ontario (119.57), and Olivier Lessard of Quebec in third (119.29).
Kuroda is also a moguls skier who had to wing it, to some extent, on aerials. “I had lots of fun with it today. I jumped my best and I’m super excited.”