Junior Worlds experience bittersweet 

Young moguls skier Gagnon feels higher placing was possible

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO BY KEVIN BOGETTI-SMITH - looking back  Sofiane Gagnon will look at FIS Junior Worlds as a learning experience.
  • File photo by Kevin Bogetti-Smith
  • looking back Sofiane Gagnon will look at FIS Junior Worlds as a learning experience.

Though she was among the younger competitors at the FIS Junior World Ski Championships in Åre, Sweden earlier this month, Sofiane Gagnon knows she was capable of more than she achieved at the contest.

Gagnon placed 17th in the dual moguls after taking 27th in the moguls. The 17-year-old Whistler resident believes she could have reached higher in the latter, especially after feeling strong leading up to it.

"Unfortunately, I fell during the competition. I think I had two really good training days and on competition day, I just wasn't skiing well. I think I was just was getting frustrated and I fell," she said.

Gagnon had hoped to make, at least, the round of 16 in the dual moguls and fell just a single spot short. On the bright side, though, was that Gagnon was up against fellow Ontario Moguls Team competitor Berkley Brown, and Brown did her proud, hitting the podium by finishing third.

"It was really possible. It was achievable and unfortunately, I didn't," she said of a podium placing. "I just wish I woke up that morning with more confidence, knowing my skill and trusting myself to do everything I can do. It was an avoidable mistake I could have fixed."

Though the final numbers weren't what she'd have liked, Gagnon feels she picked up a number of useful tips not only from taking on international skiers, but from how she reacted in the face of the pressure as well.

"It was a good experience. I learned from this and learned about myself that I can't ski well if I'm frustrated. If I'm not in the right mindset, I just have to remember to just be happy that I'm here to have fun," she said. "If I'm upset, I won't ski well."

Top to bottom, the start lists comprised of challenging competitors like 17-year-old Perrine Laffont, a 2014 Olympian for France, who won the moguls competition. Gagnon appreciated the opportunity to line up against such a high-level skier.

"I see where I need to be at her age and how everyone else is improving. Seeing the younger girls, where they are at, you're making sure that you're always pushing yourself," she said.

Gagnon said the result stung even more because she had done plenty of due diligence leading up to the contest, analyzing not only her own runs, but those of her challengers she found after scouring YouTube.

"Before competition, I re-watched my runs to see where I could improve," she said. "I make those little changes to see where I could improve the score and get the highest score possible."

With offseason training on the horizon, Gagnon will be spending plenty of time in the gym aiming to establish herself as even more formidable in 2016-17.

"I'll be getting my body ready for the season, getting stronger, remembering from the season what worked out for me and trying to get those improvements this summer for next season," she said.

"There were girls there that I hadn't ever competed against from other countries," she said. "It was really good to see their level and my level and kind of compare..."



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