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Marcus Goguen reflects on breakout freeride ski season

The 18-year-old Whistlerite ‘couldn’t have asked for anything better’
Marcus Goguen poses for cameras after finishing ninth on the Freeride World Tour’s Ordino Arcalis contest in 2023.

Though still a teenager, Marcus Goguen is already a competitive two-sport athlete, a world champion, and a podium finisher at the highest level of freeride skiing: the Freeride World Tour (FWT). He’s had a banner campaign, and he’s just getting started.

“I couldn’t have asked for anything better, honestly,” Goguen said. “[The most I expected] for the season was just doing well on the challenges and then at the end, qualifying for the [FWT] the following year. I never really expected to get a wild card onto the tour as an 18-year-old.”

Levelling up

The Whistlerite has had plenty to celebrate this past year. Back in August, he won a bronze medal and the Stevie Smith Memorial Award at Crankworx on two wheels. Months later, he co-starred in a Warren Miller snow sports film called Daymaker, which helped to elevate his profile as a talented young skier.

Then, in January, Goguen elevated himself to the podium’s top step at the 2023 Freeride Junior World Championships (FJWC) with a high-amplitude run under pressure.

“I definitely had the goal of doing a solid run that I’d be happy with,” he remembers about that milestone day in Austria. “Obviously, I had the top spot in mind, but I definitely just want to have fun and experience skiing in Europe. That’s what I did, and it worked out.”

Shortly afterwards, Goguen flew across the pond to Spain, where he was to forerun for the FWT’s season-opening event in Baqueira Beret. He had landed the gig through Derek Foose, a tour announcer and head coach of the Whistler Freeride Club (WFC) where Goguen cut his teeth in the sport.

After acquitting himself well as a forerunner, Goguen felt like he fit right in with the older, more experienced athletes on the big show. They, in turn, were impressed with his clutch performance at the World Juniors. FWT decision-makers awarded the Whistlerite with a wild card spot on the senior circuit, and he took full advantage.

A ninth-place finish at Ordino Arcalis in Andorra showed the world that Goguen was ready for freeride’s grandest stage. Later in February, he threw down his first FWT podium performance at Kicking Horse in Golden, B.C.

In doing so, Goguen bested Austria’s Valentin Rainer, who ended up third in Kicking Horse but became the overall World Champion at season’s end.

“To be honest, that wasn’t really one of the runs I was super stoked on this season,” said Goguen, who nonetheless managed to distinguish himself with a big 360 followed by a hard left turn into a daring backflip. “It was just such a short and quick run. All of a sudden, I was down [at the finish] and it all happened so quick. I didn’t even realize what happened.

“Obviously, I’m happy. It was really cool to have my first time sitting in the hot seat in the big leagues, and I was pretty stoked to watch my buddy [Max Hitzig of Germany] throw that massive backflip, kicking me out of the hot seat [and winning].”

Goguen wrapped up his season in 10th in Fieberbrunn, Austria as the field’s lone Canadian. The Yeti Xtreme Verbier contest (originally meant to be the FWT finale) was then cancelled due to adverse weather.

All-terrain aspirations

Last year, Goguen recognized that he may ultimately need to choose between his two beloved sports of skiing and mountain biking. He is more dominant on powder and knows that his competitive ceiling lies within the ski world.

Even so, the reigning FJWC king intends to make his name as a dual-sport athlete. As a member of the Outlaw United bike team, he’ll be headed back to Europe in June to race in several World Cup downhill events. Goguen believes it is healthy for him to focus on different sports in different seasons, as just one can get “kind of boring.”

He’s certainly not alone. Whistler is home to a bevy of competitive youngsters with aspirations of all-terrain greatness. Take the Pelchat sisters for example: Juliette and Amalia are both snowboarding standouts who also run the Real Wild Kittens (RWK) skateboard club.

Then there’s Whistler’s favourite youth athlete, Wei Tien Ho: a Norco Canadian Enduro Series-winning mountain biker who recently earned his shot on the FWT.

Goguen and Ho are childhood friends who grew up shredding their way through snowy slopes and dirt trails alike. They remain close, and Goguen says that Ho has inspired him to not only continue biking, but to push himself in the sport.

Needless to say, he’s thrilled to be taking on the world’s most picturesque mountains alongside a trusted friend. The two are accustomed to competition, but Goguen expects them to lean on each other during their time on the senior circuit.

“I think we can both succeed out there, for sure,” he said. “There’s definitely going to be a competitive nature between the two of us, but I think it can be more as teammates. You look at the Swedes, where they’re always picking lines together on the Freeride World Tour.

“[Ho and I] would be able to have that kind of team going forward with each other and work together to succeed.”