Vancouver, March 27, 2023 – Ashley Koehler left her mark at the Junior World Championships last week in Chiesa in Valmalenco, Italy. The Québécoise made it clear that she will be one to watch in the coming years, winning two medals in three events against the world’s elite competitors in her sport.
Koehler kicked off the event in style on Thursday, clinching the bronze medal in the moguls event. She obtained a score of 68.34 points in the hotly contested final, in which only Shiori Asano (69.23) et Marin Ito (68.98), both of Japan, outperformed her.
“I’m really happy! I had no expectations for the Junior World Championships, so I’m really happy with my result. I think I could have done better in the final, but I was consistent enough to get on the podium. It was a great start!” said Koehler, following the event.
In the men’s race, Koehler’s compatriot Jean-Christophe Bougie nearly matched his teammate’s result, but came up just short. Only 0.03 points behind bronze medallist Asher Michel of the USA, the 17-year-old skier found himself at the base of the podium with a score of 69.63. World Cup regulars Filip Gravenfors of Sweden (77.05) and Daeyoon Jung of South Korea (73.20) occupied the two top spots.
However, the week was not over for Bougie, who joined forces with Koehler for the team event on Friday. The two Canadians united their efforts in the big final to reach the second step of the podium, just behind the Americans.
“It was a lot of fun to do it with Ashley! She’s performed well all year, so we were feeling confident and looking forward to the race. We started with the number 3 bib, so we knew we had a good chance, and we didn’t waste it. It was a new kind of race for us, but we did well,” noted the Québécois.
Koehler and Bougie capped off the event in fine fashion on Saturday, posting Canada’s best results in dual moguls, with sixth and eighth place. Canadians Lynette Conn, Citrine Boychuk, Joey Dubuc, Louis Paradis and Jérémy Sauvageau also participated in the Junior World Championships.
“All in all, things went well. It was a great opportunity for us to see how we measured up to the world’s top junior athletes. Our delegation did a great job, and we all got to know each other better over the course of the week. Overall, it was definitely a success,” said coach Philippe Marquis, following the competition.
Eight medals for Canada at Stoneham
Meanwhile, at the tourist resort of Stoneham, Quebec, the Stepup Tour was taking place. It was the fourth and final stop of the Nor-Am Cup in slopestyle and Big Air.
The highlight of Saturday’s slopestyle event was a Canadian hat trick by the men. Bruce Oldham of Ontario led the charge with the gold medal. He was accompanied on the podium by his teammates Rémi Asselin and Martin Kai, who finished second and third, respectively.
On the same day, Naomi Urness and Caoimhe Heavey captured silver and bronze in the women’s event, which was won by Jay Riccomini of the USA.
Twenty-four hours later, the Canadians picked up right where they had left off, this time in Big Air. Kai Martin won the top prize in the men’s event, edging out James Kanzler of the USA (silver) and fellow Canadian Jérémy Gagné (bronze).
A few minutes later, Naomi Urness added to Canada’s haul, finishing on the second step of the podium in the women’s contest. In the same event, Jay Riccomini of the USA won his second gold medal of the weekend, while his teammate Kathryn Gray finished third.
Canada was represented by approximately fifty athletes at the Stepup Tour, which capped off this year’s Nor-Am campaign.
Jérémy Gagné (220 points), Martin Kai (210 points) and Bruce Oldham (192 points) now lead the cumulative rankings in the men’s disciplines. On the women’s side, Naomi Urness (240 points) and Ayden Fraser (200 points) are second and third, behind Jay Riccomini, with 300 points.
Moguls and Dual Moguls Senior National Championships
Canada’s top moguls racers were in Val Saint-Côme this weekend for the National Championships.
As per usual, Mikaël Kingsbury dominated the moguls event on Saturday. The winner of three World Cup Crystal Globes this season earned the top spot on the podium with 87.33 points, ahead of Louis-David Chalifoux (79.90) and Daniel Tanner (76.29).
Quebec’s Laurianne Desmarais-Gilbert (65.58) earned the second Canadian title of her career, ahead of Berkley Brown (65.39) and Florence Laroche (65.06).Sunday’s dual moguls event saw the crowning of two new champions: Elliot Vaillancourt and Maia Schwinghammer. Gabriel Dufresne and Sam Cordell rounded out the men’s top three; Jessica Linton and Berkley Brown did likewise on the women’s side.