Devastating third runs from Cassie Sharpe and Mike Riddle on Thursday landed them a pair of World Cup ski halfpipe gold medals in Tignes, France.
The women’s field simply couldn’t match Sharpe’s two best runs on the day. The 22-year old who calls Comox, British Columbia home, had made headlines earlier this season winning second place at the FIS Freestyle Ski and Snowboard championships in Kreishberg, Austria.
The World Cup gold for Sharpe – her first – comes at the final event of the season for Canada’s freestyle ski halfpipe team. Her best World Cup result prior to this was fifth place last month in Park City, Utah.
Sharpe’s victory is all the more impressive considering that she soared ahead of a strong field that included two Sochi 2014 medallists.
Japan’s Ayana Onozuka, who won a halfpipe Olympic bronze medal in Sochi, finished second to Sharpe with a score of 90.40. Another top-six Olympian, Brita Sigourney of the United States (86.40) was third on Thursday. Further down the field was Olympic silver medallist Marie Martinod of France. None of them could match Sharpe’s 93.80 score on her third run (or the 91.80 in her second for that matter).
“My riding has definitely improved and I’ve become a stronger skier since the World Championships,” Sharpe said in a Canadian Freestyle Ski Association release. “Just making the finals was a huge accomplishment with this field. It was really stacked… It’s definitely a good feeling knowing that I can compete with this group and I can mix it up a bit with them. It’s fun knowing that I can challenge these girls,”
On the men’s side, Olympic silver medallist Mike Riddle hit the podium in a big way in the season finale.
American David Wise – the Sochi gold medallist who beat Riddle – had vaulted to the top of the final with scores of 92.00 and 93.60 in his first two runs. Riddle remained in the top three through the first two with a score of 86.00 in his opener. But on the third run, Riddle ripped through the course to score an eye-popping 95.00, leaving Wise to challenge. The American managed to register an improved 94.20, but it wasn’t enough to beat Riddle in a 1-2 reversal of their Sochi encounter. Wise’s compatriot Alex Ferreira (87.40) was third.
“My year has been a tough one for me,” Riddle said. “I haven’t been on the podium since the Olympic Games. This season has been about working on new tricks and new combos. It’s a building year. I wasn’t as worried about the podium. I’m thinking long term towards Korea. But it’s huge to land all my runs and win here. Everyone is skiing on such a high level on tour, so you really need to put down a flawless run to win.”