Rylan Kappler was the odd one out on the podium at the opening ceremonies for the Freeride World Tour on Sunday.
The third male skier called, he walked up hoisting a can of Mt. Begbie Powerhouse Pale Ale. Meanwhile, as the other competitors got called up, they all pulled out their competition bibs, each with their names emblazoned upon them.
Kappler only got the call to compete last week, so there was no bib for him yet. After finishing 15th in last year’s competition and winning the Young Gun Award here, he was given the only local wild card spot available.
“I don’t feel like I did much for it but it feels good for sure,” he said after the ceremonies. “I’m a lot more nervous than I was last year. It’s the most nervous I’ve ever been on my life.”
Kappler grew up as a freestyle mogul skier, training with his father Trent and frequently winning junior events.
He competed in his first Freeski World Tour event in 2011, making it through the qualifiers but he failed to make into the finals and wound up 30th.
Last year, Kappler made it through qualifying and came out of day one of the finals in North Bowl in ninth place. In the finals, on the Mac Daddy face, he skied a solid, if somewhat uneven line and finished the competition in 15th spot.
His goal is to improve on last year’s ranking. “It’s just going to be insane this year. I want to step it up a little bit and take it more seriously,” he said. “There’s lots of crazy French people and Europeans. I’ve never seen them ski but it’s going to be exciting to see everybody go.”
Kappler is set to start third amongst the male skiers. The male skiers will be the second group to run the course, after the male snowboarders.