The Freestyle Canada halfpipe team kicked off with a flourish at the first FIS Freestyle World Cup event in Cardrona, New Zealand. The event was staged during the Audi Quattro Winter Games, in which the Canadian slopestyle skiers were also competing last weekend. Cassie Sharpe came in first for the women’s half-pipe team while Simon d’Artois stood on the third step of the podium for the men’s. It was a strong start on the road to the Olympics!
Although the focus at this point in the season is still on training and on honing skills, the event was also an opportunity to evaluate the performance levels of the Canadian team’s athletes, explained David Mirota, Vice-president, Sport, Freestyle Canada. “The fact that this World Cup is part of the Olympic qualification process gave us an opportunity to see how our athletes stack up against their peers from other countries. We emerge from the experience satisfied with the team results early on in the season.”
Poor weather forced organizers to hold the qualifying and final rounds on the same day. Of the 35 men in the starting lineup, 10 had an opportunity to make it to the finals, while the women went directly to the final round.
Cassie Sharpe (@cassiesharpe) edged out 15-year-old Kelly Sildaru by earning more points on her second run. “I am really happy to come away from this first event of the season with a victory,” said Sharpe, who won the World Cup in Tignes last March. “The competition was fierce and I knew my second run had to be good. I’m going to keep on training hard this fall so that I can continue to push the limits of the sport.”
For the men, Simon d’Artois (@simondartois) stepped back up on the podium with a third-place finish. For the skier who persisted despite several challenges in his previous season, this was a happy outcome. “I’m very pleased with a podium win in this event. This is an Olympic year and it increases my chances of qualifying for the team,” he said. “Starting the season this way is a real confidence booster. I want to keep on skiing well and I expect to have a good season.”
A promising start for slopestyle athletes.
Cardrona also hosted the first FIS World Cup slopestyle event last weekend. Though no Canadian athletes made it to the podium, the team demonstrated that it’s on the right track with promising results in the qualifying round.
In women’s, Dara Howell placed third in the qualifiers while her teammate Yuki Tsubota placed seventh, giving them both a shot at the final round. For the men, Alex Beaulieu-Marchand and Evan McEachran worked slopestyle magic with flawless runs in the qualifying round, earning them 90.00 and 90.33 points respectively. Unfortunately, neither was able to repeat those performances in the final, but both were pleased with the way they’d skied.
The team is back in Canada and continues to train for the 2017-2018 season.