Back to top

Whitewater Ski Resort nurtures world class freestyle ski talent

Sam Kuch, recently named the 2019 ‘International Athlete of the Year’ by High5 Festival, has been an inspiration to the up-and-coming freestyle skiers competing at Whitewater Ski Resort last weekend. — Photo courtesy Ryan Flett

Whitewater Ski Resort has established itself as a breeding ground for some of the world’s best new freeskiers.

The ski resort held their 9th annual Junior Freeski event over the weekend with 149 atheltes between the ages of seven and 18 years making the most of 60 cm of fresh snowfall , seeking to impress the judges with their line choice, technique, style and energy.

Ninety four athletes made it through qualifiers on Friday and Saturday to compete in the finals on Sunday, held on the resort’s iconic run ‘Blast’ right underneath the Summit chairlift.

With prizing for males and females in the 7-11, 12-14 and 15-18 age categories, athletes from the Whitewater Freeride team took up spots on every single podium.

Most notably, the top eight finishers in the male 15-18 category were all from Whitewater. Dylan Moynes and Brodie Jensen took third and second place respectively, with the title clinched by Adam Kuch.

Whitewater is becoming notorious as the birthplace for some of the world’s top freeski athletes, as well as the most up-and-coming. Sam Kuch, older brother of Adam mentioned above, was recently named the 2019 ‘International Athlete of the Year’ by High5 Festival. Sam was also awarded the titles of ‘Best Male Freeride’ and ‘Best Male Performance’ at the IF3 Festival and Powder Awards respectively, for his segment in the latest Matchstick Productions film: Return to Send’er.

Kuch’s newfound stardom as “The Kootenay Kid” resulted in two sell-out shows during the international tour of the MSP premiere, in his hometown of Nelson, on October 28th 2019. As hosts of the screenings, Whitewater Ski Resort re-invested all of the profits from the premieres to support the local freeride talent.

Part of this re-investment was used for a special premiere of the MSP film at Sam Kuch’s middle school, Trafalgar Middle, to inspire local youth that freeskiing is within their reach. A second segment of the proceeds were put towards the Whitewater Freeride Team, from which Sam graduated just a few years ago. For the 2019/20 season, the Freeride Team has expanded and now includes a girls-only team, to specifically encourage female freeriders.

The final percentage of the profits will be used to pay for a coach to support the Whitewater athletes going to the 2020 Freeride Junior World Championships (FJWC) in Kappl, Austria between January 28th-31st. This is the 6th consecutive year that Whitewater will be represented on the Canadian National Team. The resort’s athletes have finished on the podium at the FJWC in three of the last five years.

The soul of freeskiing at Whitewater, may stem from the passion inspired by the resort’s General Manager, Kirk Jensen – a legend from the early days of the sport in the 1990s. Or maybe it comes from the epic terrain within Whitewater’s tenure. When the ski resort was created in 1976, the land was left as natural as possible – with secret cliff sections, hidden glades and some seriously steep drops to be found within the ski area boundaries.

There’s plenty of other notable names in freeskiing who call Whitewater home. Trace Cooke, previous athlete on the Freeride World Tour and North Face sponsored skier, is still a regular face seen on the chairlifts. Chandrima Lavoie and Andy Mann are other up-and-coming Whitewater sponsored athletes making names for themselves on this year’s Freeride World Qualifiers circuit.

“Whitewater is proud to be part of the development of some amazing athletes and to be able to help them at the beginning of their careers in freeride,” says Kirk Jensen, General Manager at Whitewater Ski Resort.

"We are incredibly lucky to have access to such amazing terrain and a dedicated team of very talented and passionate coaches. I hope that our humble ski area can be a core part of this sport, long into the future."