Mackenzie Schwinghamer pretty much grew up on a pair of skis.
It explains a lot about why the 18-year-old from West Kelowna is one of the top up-and-coming young freestyle skiers in Canada.
Schwinghamer is looking to build off her biggest win yet, a gold medal in moguls earlier this month at the Canada Cup in Calabogie, ON.
Moguls skiers are judged on 60 per cent technique, 20 per cent air and 20 per cent finishing time. On Sunday, Jan. 14, Schwinghamer nailed all three.
“I always seem to be second or third in those events, so to finally take that step and get the win is really nice,” said Schwinghamer, who competes and trains with Team Alberta. “I won by over seven points, that surpassed everything I could have hope for. Everything just came together for me on that day.”
Schwinghamer, who has been competing on the Nor Am circuit for the past three seasons, grew up immersed in the sport.
Her dad, Paul Schwinghamer, was a member of Canada’s national freestyle team in the mid 1980s, while her uncle, Rick Schwinghamer, spent three years on the World Cup circuit from 1980 to 1982.
“It’s been such a big part of my life since I can remember,” said Mackenzie, who put on her first pair of skis at two. “I couldn’t imagine my life without it.”
In NorAm Cup races last season, Schwinghamer, who also competes in dual moguls, made finals in three of four events, with a season-best ninth-place showing out of 55 skiers at Northstar California Resort in Truckee, CA.
At the end of last season, she was named alternate for the national development team, also known as the Canadian NextGen Team.
In December, Schwinghamer further added to her resume by being the top skier across all provinces at the Canadian Selections competition at Apex Mountain Resort.
The next step for Schwinghamer will be getting onto the World Cup circuit on a full-time basis, followed by—in an ideal world—competing for Canada at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
“I’m striving for that,” she said. “A lot of things can happen in that time, but it’s something I would really like to take a run at.”
As for her more immediate future, Schwinghamer is in Val St. Come, QC this weekend for the first NorAm event of the new season.
She’ll also compete in Killington, Vermont at another NorAm Cup on Feb. 3 and 4, before moving on to Red Deer for a Canada Cup event, Feb. 16 to 18 at Canyon Resort.