Sofiane Gagnon and Brenden Kelly Achieve Career Bests at World Champs
March 9, 2021
Almaty, Kazakhstan – It’s safe to say that it was a successful day for BC Skiers and Freestyle Whistler alumni, Sofiane Gagnon along with Brenden Kelly, who both finished in 4th place during today’s dual moguls event at the World Championships.
Building on a 17th-place finish in Monday’s singles, the 25-year-old Kelly enjoyed his career-best finish after picking off many of the best skiers on the planet. Working his way through the bracket from the round of 64, the Pemberton, B.C. native was forced into the Small Final after losing a nailbiter in the semifinals to Australia’s Matt Graham – setting up a rematch against Horishima who is arguably one of the top skiers in the world behind Kingsbury.
“I started the event with a super tough bracket. I fell behind my competitors in speed, but because I kept my skiing as clean as possible I was able to ski all the way to the Small Finals. It was super exciting to make it this far,” said Kelly. “I’ve never skied this many runs in a dual moguls World Cup event, let alone a World Championships. Skiing against these super talented skiers forced me to push out of my comfort zone and the boundaries of what I can do.”
Kelly, who missed valuable training time in January due to a bruised heel, was confident coming into World Championships after coming off a career-best fifth-place finish in dual moguls at his last World Cup event in Deer Valley where he topped the talented Japanese athlete. Horishima got the best of the Canadian this time around.
“Having beaten Horishima in my last competition in Deer Valley, I knew I was going to have to push really hard. I went all out, but unfortunately lost control after going too big on my top air and ended up blowing out of the course,” added Kelly. “To lose by blowing out was certainly a little frustrating, but I’m still really proud of my performance today and walking away with my career-best result.”
Gagnon also made a charge for her first career podium in the women’s dual moguls event.
The youngest member of the Canadian squad in Almaty at 21 years of age, Sofiane Gagnon of Whistler, B.C., finished in fourth spot to secure her best-ever result at the elite level.
“This week was tough on Sofiane. The course was difficult and she had a tough time adjusting,” mentioned her coach, Jim Schiman, who added Gagnon has only had two starts in the last two years while recovering from a knee injury.
“We made some tough decisions early in the season holding her out of starting World Cups in December and Deer Valley (February) in order to have Sofiane train in Canada to ensure her health for World Championships. She didn’t complain. She saw the value in the decisions. She came out today with a great attitude after a disappointing single moguls result and competed on par with her training, which was good enough to beat anyone in the field.”
Skiing calm and composed, the talented Gagnon showcased her potential while finishing just shy of punching her ticket to battle for the gold in the Big Final after losing her semi-final match to the eventual silver medallist from Russia, Viktoriia Lazarenko. A couple of small mistakes also cost Gagnon the bronze medal match. She was edged off the podium in the Small Final by Anastassiya Gorodko, of Kazakhstan.
“Today was definitely a special one for me”, mentioned Gagnon. “My last duals event was at the World Championships in 2019, so I was really excited to step back into the gate for this event after two years. Returning from a long rehab and walking away with a new best result really meant a lot to me.”
OTHER CANADIAN ATHLETES’ PLACINGS:
Women: Sofiane Gagnon (4), Justine Dufour-Lapointe (9), Chloé Dufour-Lapointe (19)
Men: Mikaël Kingsbury (1), Brenden Kelly (4), Kerrian Chunlaud (7), Laurent Dumais (11),
Gabriel Dufresne (19)