A Canadian topped the podium at the 2023 Junior World Freeride Championship in Kappl, Austria last week.
Four Canadian Jr. Men skiers finished in the top 20, with Whistler’s Marcus Goguen capturing the gold medal, Jack Kolesch came in fifth, Kieren Ferguson in 10th place, and Rossland skier Xander Bankes finished 17th in Tuesday’s (Jan. 24) plunge from the Tyrolian Alps.
Goguen laid down an almost flawless run earning 90 points at the Quellspitze. According to the freerideworldtour.com, the BC skier “stormed out of the gates with a couple of huge, steezy clean airs, completing the top section in no time. But it was his entry into the ‘halfpipe’ that will be remembered for some time, throwing a ginormous corked three and putting it to bolts. He wasn’t finished there, hucking himself off two more big cliffs with ease.”
Bankes had beaten Goguen the year before at Red Mountain, but was impressed with his teammate’s performance.
“I am really happy for Marcus; it was great to have a Canadian on the top of the podium!,” said Bankes. “The after-party was kind of wild; definitely different than anything I have ever experienced, and it was so fun being there with new friends!”
It was Bankes first time competing at the Junior Worlds, and it provided an experience he won’t soon forget.
“This has been such an incredible experience! The organization has been superb and we have been really taken care of.
“The venue was so cool, but we had to do a serious mountaineering hike in, and I have never been so scared in my life; I was just happy to make it to the start gate!”
Bankes had a chance to look over the location the Sunday prior to the competition, an expanse of fresh white snow clinging to a massive, precipitous slope, cluttered with cliffs, couloirs, and tantalizing lines.
When he made it to the starting gate, he had a moment of awareness, looked around and appreciated the moment.
“When I was up there it was so cool to be with people from all over the world, looking out over the Alps thinking ‘I am actually doing this thing!’”
Bankes was fourth out of the gate and was smooth and technically flawless in his descent. He briefly lost control while landing a drop, yet maintained his composure and completed the run.
“My run was really good and I am proud of how I skied,” said Bankes. “I was strong in my skiing, had smooth airs and just ran up against that flat landing and a bit of snow on my last drop that took me out.
“I was disappointed, but then I got down to the finish and the atmosphere was so amazing it was easy to let it go and enjoy the moment.”
Bankes is back in Rossland and getting ready for the 2023 Red Mountain IFSA Junior National competition this weekend, Feb. 3-5, and will compete in Fernie the following week.