By Victoria Klassen
Aaron Turnau was a wide-eyed nine-year-old when he first saw a mogul skiing competition taking place at Calabogie Peaks, but he decided right then and there that that was the sport for him.
He signed up with Freestyle Calabogie and began competing two years later with some coaching from Myles Adam. Now almost a decade deep, Turnau clocked 75 days on skis before the start of February this season, and he’s got plenty more planned as he seeks to rise farther with the Canadian Mogul Academy under the guidance of David Belhumeur, a former Olympian and World Cup champion.
Turnau lists Mikaël Kingsbury as his role model. While he’s got a little ways to go before he can take a crack at Kingsbury’s head-spinning record of 78 World Cup victories, Turnau did recently enjoy his first tastes of international competition.
The 17-year-old travelled to Sweden for an event in November, and in recent weeks made his Nor-Am Cup circuit debut with competitions in B.C. and Utah.
“Mogul skiing has given me the opportunity to travel to different places and ski at mountains around the world,” highlights Turnau, whose top result in his first four Nor-Am starts was 45th out of 64. “It’s been incredible making friends with other athletes from across Canada and around the world.”
Turnau will have a unique upcoming stop when he takes part in the Canada Winter Games multi-sport competition, set to run from Feb. 18-Mar. 5 in Prince Edward Island (or on Feb. 24 and 25 in New Brunswick if you’re a mogul freestyle skier).
“I am very excited. It is like the Winter Olympics on a national level,” enthuses Turnau. “It will also be cool to watch the other events and see the level of skill from the other athletes.
“We fly to PEI on a plane with other Team Ontario athletes and we get to attend the Opening Ceremonies. … It’s going to be fun.”
Turnau’s strong 2021-2022 season ended on a low note, with an injury while training at the junior nationals. He’s come back from the injury with a renewed passion and focus, which has translated into his skiing this season.
Turnau has been performing a Cork 720 and a back tuck, or back tuck cross, on the mogul run jumps in competitions. He’s hoping to put down these jumps and have a clean, fast run at the Canada Winter Games.
“My teammates over the years are what makes me love the sport,” adds Turnau, who helped coach younger skiers at Calabogie’s Christmas camp. “I have built so many good friendships and I continue to hang out with those who I skied with when I started on the Freestyle Calabogie Team.
“I have also made some great new friends with my teammates from the Canadian Mogul Academy. I’m looking forward to all of the new friendships I’ll make at the Canada Winter Games.”
Ottawa’s downhill skiers take different trails to Games
There are four other local skiers set to hit the slopes for the Canada Games, with alpine and freestyle disciplines jumbled between Crabbe Mountain in Central Hainesville, N.B. and Mark Arendz Provincial Ski Park in North Wiltshire, P.E.I.
At age 14, Matthew Lepine is the youngest competitor entered in male freestyle skiing at the Canada Games. That’s nothing new for the Fortune Freestyle athlete. Lepine was also the youngest skier in the field when he made his Nor-Am Cup debut last season for a big air competition at Stoneham, QC and again when he placed 20th out of 44 at a January Nor-Am slopestyle event in Calgary.
Though Ottawa is home, Luka McKinlay will be competing for Team Quebec at the Canada Games since he skis out of Mont-Tremblant. The 16-year-old Louis-Riel high school student scored the seventh and final berth on the Quebec team from a field of 37 vying for selection at their trials. A 2022 super-G provincial champion, McKinlay also plays soccer for the Ottawa Gloucester Hornets in summer.
Dylan Brett will take to the start line for Ontario in the same alpine disciplines of slalom, giant slalom and super-G. The 6-foot tall 15-year-old competes for Camp Fortune, which is the only Quebec-based hill that’s a member of Alpine Ontario. Brett was the champion of the 2022 Art Tommy Memorial super-G race at Mont Ste. Marie, finishing ahead of 52 competitors from around the region.
James Budrow has been skiing since age four, and though an accident forced the amputation of one of his legs below the knee in 2020, it ultimately led him to explore racing with the Ontario para alpine ski team. The 17-year-old John McCrae Secondary School student is in his first year of competitive skiing.
The Canada Games freestyle skiing competitions take place in the first week of the Games from Feb. 19-25, while the alpine events are part of Week 2 from Feb. 28-Mar. 5. Consult the full schedule for freestyle here and alpine here.
Visit our Ottawa at the Canada Winter Games central webpage for more coverage on our local athletes’ journeys to the PEI 2023 Games.
Ottawa at the Canada Winter Games Daily Newsletter
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