Gaskell goes to bag of tricks

Vernon Freestyle Ski Club member Elena Gaskell had a busy month of March in various competitions all over Canada. - photo submitted
Vernon Freestyle Ski Club member Elena Gaskell had a busy month of March in various competitions all over Canada.
— image credit: photo submitted

Tyler Lowey

Morning Star Staff

Twelve-year-old Elena Gaskell of Vernon is rapidly ascending the world ranks in freestyle skiing.

The Grade 7 student had an mystifying month of March on the slopes.

Gaskell got the ball rolling when she won the Big Air Event at Silver Star March 9. She threw down her first Misty 540 in competition. She ran away with gold as her score more than doubled the next closest competitor.

“The Misty 5 is something I have been working on a lot the past year. I started winning once I was able to stick the landing,” said Gaskell. “It’s my favourite trick.”

The Misty 540 is a front flip combined with a 180 degree rotation.

“She has a lot of talent without any fear. Most girls struggle to do a front flip,” said Connor Reeves, head coach of the Silver Star Freestyle Ski team.

Before an athlete can attempt tricks in competition, they must earn the proper qualifications.

They must show that they can land the jumps onto air bags or off water ramps. Testing of the jumps takes place in Whistler. From there they have a five jump qualification on snow. The athlete needs a combined score of 75 or better to earn the right to do these tricks in competition.

Gaskell has been training with the B.C. Park and Pipe Developmental team with the B.C. Freestyle Ski Association for a year now. This allows her to work with new coaches while practising jumps on snow, water ramps and trampolines.

“She is an extremely determined athlete. She goes off more jumps than anyone at practice and she has a game plan for each event,” said Evan Wilcox, head coach of the B.C. Developmental Freestyle Ski team. “That is something that separates herself from every other kid her age.”

From Silver Star Gaskell travelled to Le Realis, Que. for the Junior National Championships in Big Air March 13.

She flat out dominated. Not only was her score highest in her age group but it also was the higher than any female competitor.

“The last few competitions she landed ground-breaking tricks for someone her age,” said Wilcox.

Having conquered the junior ranks, Gaskell headed to Calgary for the Senior National Slopestyle March 23 at Canada Olympic Park. Gaskell didn’t back down from the big stage as she crushed a 720 during one of her runs. She left Cow Town with a silver medal.

The final weekend in March saw Gaskell return to Silver Star. She conquered the ninth annual Showdown Throwdown Hoedown, winning the qualifying and final round in convincing fashion.

This month could not have been possible without the devotion on the home front. Elena was away from classes most of March.

“Yeah it was a hectic month for all of us, but it is something she is clearly passionate about so we are supporting her the whole way through,” said her father, Ken Gaskell.

Elena capped off a whirlwind month with her fifth competition in as many weeks. She won the B.C. Freestyle Championship, April 3-6, at Mt. Washington in Courtenay with an inner-ear dizzying combination of a: 720 to a Misty 540, followed by a 360.

In a short five-week span, Gaskell won provincial and national championships while watching her world ranking skyrocket to 71.

“This summer she will work on tricks off of the water jumps and trampolines as she tries to get new tricks qualified for next season,” said Reeves.

“I want to work on my Cork 720 and skiing backwards this summer,” said Elena.

Provincial and national level events next winter will be the stepping stones to bigger international events one day. She is still two years away from thinking of attending the X Games or the Dew Tour.

“If I keep succeeding, I want to be at the 2018 or 2022 Olympic Games,” said Elena.

“She shouldn’t have a problem going as far as she wants to if she stays on track,” said Wilcox.


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