VANCOUVER—Brayden Kuroda was a positive young man who had put his ambitions of becoming a surgeon on hold to pursue his athletic career, say some of those who knew the freestyle ski talent.
Public messages of condolence have flooded social media since news of the death of the 19-year-old from Penticton, B.C., broke Tuesday evening.
On Thursday, those who knew him described a “fantastic” person with ambition and dedication.
“Brayden was always up. He won most of the competitions, but he never came up with the attitude a lot of kids do,” said Brian Spence, the president of the Apex Freestyle Ski Club when Kuroda was a member. “He was always very social, very thankful and appreciative of doing it. He was always really good with his teammates.”
Spence said Kuroda died unexpectedly while staying at his uncle’s house in Airdrie, Alta. The exact cause of death has not been released.
Spence said the outpouring of grief after Kuroda’s death has been “huge” and that a group photo is being planned in his memory this weekend. It will be open to everyone on the moguls course at Apex Mountain, located outside of Penticton.
Dan Ashton, the MLA for Penticton, said he’s known Brayden’s father, Ken Kuroda, since they were teenagers. Ken was also a competitive skier in his youth and coached his son and other kids from the region, Ashton said, including using a barge on a lake in the summer so the young athletes could practise their aerial manoeuvres year-round.
“Down to earth,” Ashton said of Brayden. “He was one of the nicest kids you’d ever meet. He not only had athletic skills, but also scholastic skills, he graduated at the top of his class.”
Kuroda had planned on becoming a surgeon and had been accepted to the University of Calgary’s biomedical science honours program, a premedical program.
But he chose to defer the acceptance to pursue his skiing.
“With his incredible dedication and ability shown with everything he did until his passing, I have no doubt he would have fulfilled that dream,” Ashton said.
Kuroda made his World Cup debut last month in Mont-Tremblant, Que. There, he finished 34th. His last competition on the World Cup circuit was Feb. 1 in Calgary, where he came in 25th.
On Tuesday Freestyle Canada, of which Kuroda was a moguls team member, released a statement about his death.
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“Brayden was a very special young man. His infectious smile and passion for the sport of Freestyle skiing inspired our community,” said Freestyle Canada in a release. “He always found the time to give back, underscoring how important it was to him personally to be a good role model on and off the hill and to encourage young athletes to reach their goals.”
With files from The Canadian Press