Andi Naude of Canadas Olympic moguls team does some training on Apex Mountain at night to simulate the conditions the skiers will be competing on at the Olympics in South Korea. Mark Brett/Western News

Okanagan coach readying Team Canada freestyle athletes for Olympics

Members of Canada’s Olympic moguls mens and womens teams were training in Penticton this week

Describing the training environment at Apex Mountain a “dream,” the Penticton head coach of the Canadian men’s moguls team says his guys are ready to rock the Olympics.

After spending the last 10 days on the local ski hill, Rob Kober, his coaching staff and team members boarded the 6 a.m. flight Thursday at Penticton Regional Airport on the first leg of their journey to Pyeongchang, South Korea and the XXIII Olympic Winter Games.

“It’s the perfect course up here on Kristi’s Run and we’ve been enjoying ideal conditions. I can’t imagine a better set up for a pre-Olympic camp,” said Kober who has been at the helm of Canada’s powerhouse for a dozen years. “The course here is ideal for adding intensity in a relatively safe environment, and we kind of fly under the radar so that helps minimize distractions.

“I think having that kind of environment where everything is ideal on the snow we can insulate the athletes and keep it fun, keep them well-fed and rested and we can do all that here.”

He credits the outstanding programs at Apex over the years for producing top calibre skiers like former Summerland Olympian Kristi Richards and Penticton’s Andi Naude, 22, who will be seeing her first action in the Olympics this year on the women’s team.

“I’m biased but I think Andi’s going to win,” said Kober, whose two sons Jordan and Josh and daughter Chloe are all involved in the sport. “Andi’s awesome, she’s awesome, can’t say enough good stuff about her, and right now she’s really peaking at the right time.

“I think Andi’s best stuff is the best stuff out there right now.”

Naude joined the national team at age 16 and narrowly missed the cut for the 2014 games in Sochi.

And for his part, if results are any indication of success, Kober is definitely on the right track.

The Canadian men finished one, two in the 2014 Olympics and the silver medalist that year, Mikaël Kingsbury, is back for his third try at a gold.

Kingsbury has been burning up the course on the World Cup this season and is favoured to wind up on the top shelf of the podium this time.

“Mik’s been on a terrific tear here for quite a while and hopefully will live up to those expectations,” said Kober.

The Canadian men suffered what he described as a “devastating” blow a couple weeks ago when their number-two guy, Philippe Marquis, tore his ACL at a World Cup event in Deer Valley, Utah.

The injury, however, has not kept the 28-year-old veteran off the skis.

“He trained last night at Apex and he looks great and he’s going to try, but it’s a pretty terrible injury,” said Kober. “It’s been done before but with no ACL it’s a pretty aggressive mission.”

With such a strong, experienced team the coach is not planning to come back home empty-handed.

“If I’m honest, nope,” he said about being satisfied without winning a medal. “To be successful we definitely need to come out there with some hardware, that’s for sure. At the same time, I would say how we handle failure — hopefully we won’t have to — but how we handle that will define our team as much as anything.”

He added: “For me, the way I think about our team, our program and any individual athlete is definitely not going to be defined by the results from any one event, whether it’s the Olympic Games or anything else.”

The teams will begin training in Pyeongchang on Feb. 5 with both the men’s and women’s first qualifying rounds going at night on Feb 8.

The women’s second qualifying round and finals will be Feb. 11 and the men’s second qualifying and finals are Feb. 12.

 

On the slopes of Apex Mountain Mikael Kingsbury of the Canadian men’s Olympic moguls team does a run during training.

Laurent Dumais of the Canadian mens freestyle moguls team performs his routine against the glare of the night lightes at Apex.

Moguls freestyle skier Audrey Robichaud of the Canadian Olympic team completes a jump with the lights of Apex Mountain Resort in the background.

The lighted Kristi’s Run mogul course where members of the Canadian men’s women’s Olympic teams trained this week.

Just Posted

B.C. Green Party pushes for wild salmon commissioner

The role would serve as a unifying force in the provincial government

BC Ferries confirms Northern Sea Wolf will not sail until mid-July

BC Ferries had hoped to get the vessel in September of last year, but it didn’t arrive until December

UPDATED: Horgan says B.C. defending its interests in Trans Mountain pipeline

Canadian finance minister’s update comes the same day Kinder Morgan shareholders plan to meet

5 things to know about B.C. Floods 2018

Snowpacks continue to melt causing thousands to be displaced, dozens of local states of emergency

VIDEO: After the floods, comes the cleanup as Grand Forks rebuilds

Business owners in downtown wonder how long it will take for things to go back to normal

UPDATE: Woman dies in ocean accident near Tofino hours before daughter’s wedding

“We are so thankful to everyone who helped our mom.”

Olympian sues USA Swimming, saying it failed to protect her

Ariana Kukors Smith alleges her former coach Sean Hutchison began grooming her for sexual abuse at the age of 13

Defence minister thanks troops for B.C. flood relief work

Harjit Sajjan says not only was military response quick, support from locals has been ‘tremendous’

Couple survives being buried in mudslide on B.C. highway

The couple, from Saskatchewan, were en route to Nelson when a tree fell in their path

‘So grateful:’ Injured Bronco hockey player glad he’s alive, works on recovery

Ryan Straschnitzki was badly hurt in the accident: a spinal injury, broken ribs, a broken collar bone, and punctured lung

PHOTOS: Floodwaters rise and fall in Grand Forks

The flood-ravaged Kootenay-Boundary region begins to heal

Martin Mars waterbombers’ firefighting days are done

Wayne Coulson said his company still hopes to find a new home for the vintage aircraft

NHL playoffs weekly roundup

Vegas Golden Knights have done the impossible and have a chance at hoisting the Stanley Cup

Most Read