Ezra Jenkins placed first overall in the men’s event at last weekend’s Alberta Freestyle Skiing Association provincial mogul competition at Fernie Alpine Resort.
The 14-year old resident of Jasper, Alberta scored an 89.96 with a flat spin 360, a cork 720 and a beautiful, laser accurate landing.
The youngest of four siblings, all of who ski competitively, Jenkins completed his first competitive backflip at the age of nine and continued advancing from there.
“It gives me a reason to go outside and have fun,” he said of skiing. “I love it because it’s a family sport and I bought into it when I was young.”
Alison Brown, another Jasper skier, won the women’s competition with an event score of 74.63.
It was the first provincial event hosted by the Fernie Freestyle Club in many years and local athletes placed extremely well. Fernie resident Graham Bradish won two gold medals and placed second overall in the men’s competition. Sam Goodison scored a silver and bronze medal and placed third overall and Andrew Nixon took home a bronze medal.
Local ladies also showed they can shred. Caoimhe Heavey finished with two bronze medals, and Isabella Benitez was awarded a silver and bronze and placed third overall in the women’s competition.
Sixteen-year old Benitez splits her time between Calgary and Fernie and wowed the judges with a twister spread eagle and a 360.
“Nothing too fancy,” she said modestly.
“With us girls, everyone supports each other and it’s just fun,” she said of the competition.
The 57 registered athletes competed in four classes. All were hoping to gain points to qualify for Jr. Nationals that will be held in Quebec in the first week of March.
Troy Nixon, chief of competition, could not recall the last time the Fernie Freestyle Ski Club hosted a provincial competition.
“We’re in transition,” he said. “We have a bunch of young athletes and they need a lot of support. We need to build some better facilities on the hill for next year in order for our athletes to be better and train better.”
Nixon’s son joined Fernie Freestyle about three years ago after the family moved to the community from Calgary. He’s been slowly increasing his role in the club ever since.
“We’ve been a skiing family since the boys were small,” he said.
The slope used for the competition, located at the top of the Elk Chair, has the perfect pitch for mogul skiing, said Nixon, who hopes Fernie Freestyle continue to host provincial competitions. There is even talk of someday hosting NorAm Ski Cross competitions, according to Nixon.
“I think everybody is happy,” he said. “We’ve had great support from the community for this.”