Sun Peaks Air Nation

It’s not often you get to compete in two NorAm cup events, explore a new mountain and ride knee deep powder all in a three day - on snow trip. Team riders Joseph Jedrej, Liam Brearley, Sam Koven and Patrice Poulin alongside coach Andy Stewart got to experience the trip of a lifetime in Sun Peaks, British Columbia from January 21st to 25th 2018.

After flying from Toronto to Vancouver and Vancouver to Kamloops, we touched down and enjoyed a beautiful scenic drive through the hilly mountains of Kamloops B.C. It wasn’t long into the drive before we spotted two separate herds of deer, and an amazing Bald Eagle soaring high above the hills of Kamloops. Kamloops itself had very little snow, but as you drove up the mountains to an elevation of approximately 5000 feet there was plenty of snow and it didn’t stop there.

The first day of the event, the team went to the hill early to get registered and warmed up before the practice start time of 10:00am. There was no better way to warm up than to travel all the way to the top of the mountain and work our way down. For Sam, this was his first time riding a mountain of this size. For all of us, this was an unforgettable run. As we worked our way through the heavy fog and fresh snow, we came across a single black diamond run, steeper than any Ontario hill has to offer, sprinkled with side hits, berm tracks, and drops into fresh powder. By the time we made it to the bottom of the mountain, the legs were warm and the team was hungry to get into the course.

The Air Nation course was a little different from what the Ontario boys are used to. BIG rails and reasonably smaller jumps. That didn’t stop them from getting right into things and piecing together some different run options in practice. By the time the event started, the snow was coming down pretty hard but the Sun Peaks park staff did a great job of actively maintaining the course and keeping it fresh for all of the athletes. With athletes from Alberta, B.C., Quebec, Ontario and a sizeable number of athletes from the states, the start list was stacked with over 70 riders and a lot of heavy hitters. The Senders were no exception putting down some big tricks on the jumps, and showing off their classic Ontario rail skills.

Joseph Jedrej had a great rail line in his first qualifying run, and an even better jump set during his second qualifying run. Unfortunately, he was not able to put the two together for a full pull the first day. However, Joseph came back strong in day two and put his run down top to bottom for a personal best. Patrice Poulin had a great jump run, putting down a switch backside 900 into a regular backside 900 day one. Day two, Patrice cleaned things up with a regular backside 720, scoring him an 89 on jumps, right up there with the top jump scores of the day. Sam Koven managed to put a great rail run together during his first run, scoring in the 80’s but was not able to hold onto his frontside 1080. Sam did manage to put one good run together, although slipped off the first rail a bit early and at this level of competition, tricks needed to be executed perfectly to make it through to the top 12 for a spot in the finals. Although these boys weren’t quite able to squeak into the finals, the trip was far from over for them.

Liam Brearley stepped up to the plate and put down a homerun in qualifiers, scoring an impressive 89 on rails and 94 on jumps earning him a well-deserved spot in the top 12. He followed his run up with another great top to bottom run in finals, although at this point the big boys were all stepping up and throwing down, making things a little more difficult to crack into that 90 column. In the end, Liam walked away with an honourable 7th place finish and did it all with a broken heel cup on his binding. If that wasn’t enough, Liam upped the anti day two breaking into the 90s on both rails and jumps, solidifying his position as top dog heading into finals. Sitting in the number one qualifying spot, Liam was all alone at the top as he was the last rider to drop. That didn’t phase Liam as he dropped in and showed the judges what they were looking for, lacing technical rail tricks into smooth and stylish jump tricks. Liam stomped his run top to bottom, taking home the win and bringing a sizeable check home with it. Next to Liam on the podium was Ontario’s William Izzard in 2nd and Colorado ripper Dylan Okurowski in the 3rd spot. An honourable mention goes out to Ontario Next Gen Ladies Jasmine Baird and Sommer Gendron for taking the number one and two spots both days in the ladies division with some help from coach Sam Marcotte.

After the event, Liam and Coach Andy met back up with the rest the team who had found a sizeable cliff drop into some fresh powder. The boys were kicking out methods, tweaked indys and some smooth and not so smooth landings… Everyone tomahawks their first time riding pow. Patrice showed his diverse riding strength spinning a huge cab 540 off the cliff and stomping it bolts into the powder. We all rode out finding some awesome hits on the way down and having the time of our lives. We finished it off with a team dinner and good old game of monopoly back at the house to wrap things up.

Heading back to Ontario, the guys are more excited than ever for the upcoming Air Nation events at Mount St Louis and Mont Tremblant. Sun Peaks hosted a great event and we are all looking forward to coming back in the future.

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