Calgary skiers are shining on the first day of qualifications at the FIS Freeski and Snowboard World Cup.
As hundreds of the world’s top athletes hit the hill for Men’s Freeski Halfpipe qualifications at Canada Olympic Park, one hometown athlete is in a heated race to claim one of the sport’s top honours, despite a condition that would have most skiers packing their gear.
Noah Bowman is not most skiers.
Cold-Induced Urticaria is, essentially, an allergy to the cold. He’s been dealing with it on and off since his mid-teens.
“Basically, if I touched something cold, my hand would swell,” Bowman explained. “I once had an anaphylactic reaction when I went into cold water. I went blind and my throat swelled shut.
“The good thing is that it’s kind of come and gone.”
It hasn’t slowed the 27-year-old down.
He’s competed in two Olympics and is currently in the running for the Crystal Globe, the annual award given to the champion skier on the FIS World Cup tour.
“It’s huge,” Bowman said. “It’s been really fun going head-to-head with Aaron Blunck this season because he’s been on the highest level I’ve ever seen.”
“It’s cool that friends and family can come out, and it makes it that much more special that I can do what’s important to me in front of the people who are important to me.”
He’s not the only high-flying local in the finals.
Brendan Mackay, 22, entered the competition fresh off winning his first X Games medal – a bronze in Ski SuperPipe.
“It kind of just blew my mind getting a medal there,” MacKay said. “It’s the coolest thing that has ever happened to me.”
Calgary young guns Andrew Longino and Dylan Marineau narrowly missed the cut, but round out a local core that seems destined for halfpipe greatness.
Longino, 17, recently won Canada’s lone gold medal at the 2020 Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne, Switzerland, and was subsequently named flag-bearer for the closing ceremonies.
“I’ve been watching this event since I was really little,” Longino said. “I used to volunteer to slip the pipe. It was really cool to just get to compete with guys I’ve looked up to my whole life – especially at home with all my friends here.”
Marineau, who competes along with his twin brother Evan, is trained in moguls, big air, slopestyle and halfpipe. He also donned a Johnny Gaudreau jersey to pay tribute to his hometown NHL team.
The Men’s and Women’s Freeski Halfpipe final runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 14.