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Whistler hosts first Junior Nationals freestyle contest in seven years

Ridgeway, Matsuda, McCaughey and Ederle stand out during aerials and moguls competition

The last time Whistler played host to a Junior Nationals freestyle skiing event, it was in 2017 for park and pipe. The Junior Moguls Nationals returned to town from March 20 to 24, and lots of young talent was on display.

Quinn Ridgeway made a big splash, locking down the women’s U18 overall title by way of prevailing in dual moguls and earning bronze in single moguls with a score of 55.07 points. She also demonstrated her versatility with another bronze medal in aerials (98.8). 

Close behind her fellow KR Academy mate was Lia Matsuda, who grabbed silver in aerials (99.4), sixth in dual moguls and seventh in single moguls (47.67). It all added up to second place in the combined results. 

Apex Freestyle’s Emelie McCaughey distinguished herself as well: not only winning U16 singles gold but notching the highest score of any female athlete in any age group (70.06). 

Maxx Ederle failed to podium in any of his events, but the KR product managed a consistent weekend coming fifth in aerials (101.90) and dual moguls, and 11th in singles (60.02) to be the overall runner-up among U16 boys. 

“Our athletes definitely came to play, and took home some solid hardware that signifies a milestone and a huge achievement in their young careers,” said KR Academy founder Kristi Richards. “Whether they were out to win gold or it was their first time at an event of this level, the experiences and the magic of sport that Junior Nationals instilled in this generation is priceless.”

Rob Kober, who heads up Apex Freestyle, agrees. “It's one thing to be good, but everybody has to learn how to win. Except for the phenoms, the Mikael Kingsburys of the world…kids need to learn how to frame the event for themselves, have their own personal goals and try to not worry too much about where they end up on the results page.

“I was really pleased, overall. I knew [Emelie] could do well. She was definitely not expecting to win, but I think she's had a great season and tremendous gains. We didn't really talk about results and kept it focused on skiing…and she crushed it.” 

Results roundup

Annika Cooper bested her fellow U18 ladies for single moguls gold (64.04) ahead of Hannah Vouligny (55.08) and Ridgeway. Cooper and Audrey Penarroya finished second and third in the dual event. 

In U18 women’s aerials, only Aria Loewen (100.90) had what it took to overcome Matsuda and Ridgeway. 

Bradley Koehler struck gold in the men’s U16 single discipline (75.56), edging out runner-up Owen Cooper (72.49). Christopher Daigle held on for bronze (70.83). 

Koehler outperformed Cooper in dual moguls as well, and the pair finished one-two for a second time last weekend. Eduouard St-Andre swooped in for third. 

Meanwhile, Elliott Primeau proved to be the class of the men’s aerials field with his breakthrough (135.70). Daigle, who had lost to St-Andre in the dual race, secured silver (117.70) and bronze went to Mason Solomon (105.70). 

Four Whistler girls saw action in single moguls, led by eighth-place U16 finisher Ellysaiya Haddad (47.75). Syvienne Lawrie-Lie (24.87) and Zoe Henderson (21.05) were 14th and 15th respectively, as Kaia Kersten held down 11th amidst U14s (15.26). 

James Tsang, the lone Whistlerite on the boys’ side of competition, placed sixth among his U14 peers (5.96). 

“Our hope was for our athletes to be able to see what moguls skiing at this level looks like,” explained Freestyle Whistler director Chris Muir. “We want to grow our moguls program, and for kids across the country, we want them to be able to experience Whistler. The Gemini venue is incredible—it’s such a showcase of Blackcomb.”

Both Richards and Kober went on record to praise Whistler as a host location, expressing their hope to return for future national-level contests. All in all, Muir is more than happy with how things unfolded last weekend. 

“We had amazing weather, and we joke that we always seem to have terrible weather when hosting [so that was great],” he said. “There wasn’t a single course hold, a single injury…and we definitely learned a lot. My favorite part of the whole weekend was being able to work with other coaches and event organizers—just to be as one for the whole event.” 

Full results are available at