Brayden Kuroda may have passed away last month, but March 14 at Apex Mountain his spirit was very much alive on the moguls course he grew up on.
For nearly 10 minutes a steady stream of skiers made their way down Kristi’s Run at Apex in memory of a friend, teammate and a “wonderful human being.”
An estimated 300 people took part in the tribute that day to Brayden who was 19 at the time of his death.
Leading the way down the moguls course, a run he also once skied on competitively, was Brayden’s former coach of two years and longtime family friend, Josh Kober.
“This (tribute ski) means the world to us,” said Kober, who is currently the BC Freestyle moguls coach and who was there with some of Brayden’s former teammates. “It’s just been a really good chance today to feel that connection to him one more time here.
“You could really feel it, just skiing down that middle section of the moguls, feeling like he’s here with us. Just that energy was really special and just being in that element that he loved and meant so much to him and that he spent his life on basically, it means a lot.”
Brayden passed away unexpectedly the night of Feb. 17 at his relative’s home in Airdrie, Alta. The cause of his death was not released.
He was in his inaugural year as a member of the National NextGen Team and was a rising star on the international freestyle circuit.
Also taking part in the tribute at Apex was lifelong friend and former provincial teammate Koleton Phipps.
“I’ve known him for as long as I can remember, he’s my little brother and I miss him a lot,” said Phipps, who along with Brayden’s parents designed a special decal for skiers. “To just be here celebrating him, celebrating everything he stood for – he’s an unbelievable person, so this is a great way to pay our respects to him.
“It was tough to catch Brayden when he wasn’t smiling he was a bright light, he had a huge impact on every single person he ever met. I’m doing okay, just trying to move forward and move forward with him in mind and be at peace.”
Marnie Todd, a staff member of the Canadian Freestyle Team was watching from the bottom of the run as the skiers, some carrying pictures of Brayden, slowly made their way down the course.
“I’ve know Brayden since he was four years old, my children grew up skiing with him through all the Apex teams and onto the provincial team,” said Todd, whose daughter Kassidy was also there Saturday. “This is where Brayden would want us to be, this is his home this where he became the great little skier he was where all of his coaches especially his dad helped him develop, so if there was anywhere he would choose to be it would be at Apex with all of his friends.
“He was a very kind person, a big hearted person and always had a smile on his face, he was just a really amazing human being.”
His parents Kenni, a long time coach at Apex who dedicated countless hours year-round teaching young skiers, and mother Berva, were unable to be at the tribute however Apex general manager James Shalman did live-stream the activities to them.
“So they got to see it live and they just sent huge love and thank you, it was amazing, so fantastic,” said Shalman.
A celebration of Brayden’s life is tentatively planned for March 30 at the Penticton Lakeside Resort and Conference Centre.
Mark Brett | Reporter
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