Jean-Christophe André, Kris Atkinson, Melissa Corbo and Zac Hoffman have all bid farewell to competitive freestyle skiing to pursue new passions and life challenges. All four athletes have left a mark on their sport and respective teammates. They’ve helped pave the way for the next generation of athletes and positioned themselves as role models to aspiring national team athletes. They shared the same passion for their sport and commitment to progression. These athletes have travelled the globe, been surrounded by Canada’s elite leaders in sport and matured beyond their years. As they shift focus, they’re armed with an artillery of life experience and knowledge that will greatly benefit their transition into new passions and careers.
Melissa Corbo’s passion for aerials stemmed from a successful career in artistic gymnastics. As she discovered aerials, she shifted her attention to the sport and began turning heads as one of Canada’s top up-and-coming female aerialists. In 2015, Melissa reached new heights as she claimed her first World Cup podium finish in Lake Placid, New York.
“My greatest memory is claiming my first World Cup podium, when I was surrounded by my close friends and family, teammates and support staff, who made the experience that much more memorable. It was an honour to represent Canada on the World Cup circuit”, explained Melissa.
“Melissa was a fighter. She was a gladiator of aerial skiing. Nothing was out of reach. When she faced adversity, adversity lost. Meli had the gift of always giving us a little inspiration to push ourselves beyond our level of comfort and to surpass our goals. Melissa is a big piece of the team that will be leaving. I wish her all the best in her future endeavours. Melissa is a tenacious girl and eternal athlete with a vision, she dreams big”, stated teammate Catrine Lavallée.
Jean-Christophe André was a member of the Freestyle Canada team from 2007 to 2016. His World Cup debut started in 2008 on home soil at Mont Gabriel. His career saw many highlights which included multiple World Cup top 10’s and NorAm podiums. His in depth knowledge of the sport and strong coaching abilities leave him with the potential to stay close to freestyle community and work with the next generation of Olympians.
Long-time teammate and close friend Olivier Rochon has fond memories of their 10 years together on the national team. They grew up skiing moguls in the same region and developed a brotherly bond which will surely last a lifetime.
“J-C is a playful individual, always keen to get up and explore the world, it was great having him around…He may not have always been at the top of the World Cup podium, but he pushed the limits and always executed the toughest manoeuvers”, explained Olivier Rochon.
“J-C also tried to see the positive in everything he did and this positive energy definitely translated into the rest of the team. He embodied a team spirit like no one else I ever coached and I hope he will continue bringing this same enthusiasm and positive energy into his coaching career, and if not, into whatever he chooses to do in his life”, stated aerials coach Dennis Capicik.
Kris Atkinson has been a member of the National Halfpipe Team since 2012. Kris’s career has had many highlights, which included X Games appearances, a second-place finish at The North Face Park & Pipe Open as well as multiple National Championship victories. Over the course of his career, Kris has supplemented his passion for skiing with a career as a civil engineering technician and general labourer. As Kris transitions out of competitive skiing, his legacy will live on and inspire Canada’s up-and-coming halfpipe competitors.
Zac Hoffman has had a very successful career as an up-and-coming Freestyle Canada moguls athlete. Zac has always mixed his passion for filming with his career in freestyle skiing. Most recently he filmed a web series entitled Robbie’s Rebound, where he captured his teammate’s recovery from extensive knee reconstruction. Zac plans to focus his energy on filming, school and getting introduced to backcountry skiing on the West Coast.
“Zac was an exemplary athlete. His work ethic, his fair play, his motivation to progress and better himself and positivity were often contagious. He knew how to combine fun and hard work. There’s no doubt that all his teammates have truly enjoyed having him on the team”, explained Freestyle Canada coach Guillaume Turgeon.
“ Zac came to me proposing the idea to do Robbie’s Rebound, and this gave me the opportunity to look back and see all of the progression I was making during my recovery. Zac played a huge role in helping me get better and to get back with the team. He’s been a good friend of mine since the age of 15, when we were both on the Ontario provincial team. With him retiring, he’s accomplished all his goals within the sport, and is ready to focus on filming, his second passion”, stated close friend and teammate Robbie Andison.
As we bid farewell to these four athletes, we would like to thank them for their hard work and dedication to the sport. We can only hope that the numerous experiences acquired during their progression through the Canadian Freestyle Ski programming will help them tackle their future passions and careers.