The Canadian Freestyle Ski Association has named 50 athletes to its roster for the 2014 season in the lead up to the Sochi Winter Olympic Games. Names include Olympic and World Champion Alex Bilodeau (moguls), World Champion Kaya Turski (slopestyle) and Rosalind Groenewoud (halfpipe).
The team’s 20 women and 30 men represent a mix of seasoned veterans and new talent across the four freestyle disciplines that are under the CFSA umbrella: moguls, aerials, halfpipe and slopestyle.
“I am very confident in the talent and potential of this team,” said CFSA High Performance Program Director David Mirota. “Not only do we have very strong medal hopes in virtually every category for Sochi, but we also have a deep pool of athletes who have podium potential for 2018 and beyond.”
After a hugely successful 2013 season, where the team won a combined nine FIS World Championship, 42 FIS World Cup and 11 Association of Freeskiing Professionals platinum-level medals, Mirota said the focus is now squarely on preparing for Sochi.
“We are in the final stretch and we need to keep this season’s momentum going. I expect our athletes and coaches to train harder and smarter than ever this summer and we as an association, with the support of Own the Podium, Sport Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee, are going to pull out all the stops to make sure our team is as prepared as possible for the Games,” added Mirota.
Of the 26 possible Olympic freestyle berths, the CFSA has already awarded nine provisional spots based on results at specifically targeted events in 2013 season, like the Sochi test event and the World Championships.
Mirota said there were no big surprises in the athletes who made that group, which includes: Olympic and World Champion Alex Bilodeau (moguls), 2013 World Champion Mikael Kingsbury (moguls), Justine Dufour-Lapointe (moguls), Travis Gerrits (aerials), Mike Riddle (halfpipe), Rosalind Groenewoud (halfpipe, pictured above), World Champion Kaya Turski (slopestyle), Dara Howell (slopestyle) and Marielle Thompson (ski cross – which is overseen by Alpine Canada).
However, with 17 spots still up for grabs, athletes hoping to reach their Olympic dreams will have to give it everything they’ve got in early-season competition in order to make it to the team before the January 20, 2014 deadline for team nomination.
At least two results from the coming season combined with a maximum of two results from last season will be totaled for each athlete in the CFSA’s ‘Method B’ selection protocol.
“With so many talented athletes across the board on our 2014 team and a first class coaching staff in place for every disciplin, it’s going to be a very tight race for those spots,” said Mirota, “It’s going to be very interesting to see how it plays out.”
Also interesting to watch will be the popularity of freestyle two new Olympic events: halfpipe and slopestyle skiing, both of which are anticipated to be amongst the most highly watched events of the Games, and both of which where Canada has successfully developed very strong programs.