Canada is sending one of the strongest freestyle skiing teams in the world to PyeongChang 2018.
Canada has won 15 Olympic medals across moguls, aerials, halfpipe and slopestyle since freestyle skiing debuted at Albertville 1992. Seven of these medals were won at Sochi 2014, including three double podiums. The athletes named to Team Canada today will look to build on that success in PyeongChang.
The men’s moguls team will be led by six-time Crystal Globe winner and 2014 Olympian, Mikaël Kingsbury. Kingsbury has dominated the World Cup circuit for the past two seasons, winning 13 gold medals in a row. His streak ended Saturday when he finished second at the World Cup in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec but Kingsbury is hoping to ski his best in PyeongChang.
“It’s definitely a dream of mine to win an Olympic gold medal, but I’m not approaching the Games with that goal in mind,” Kingsbury said. “Rather, I’m showing up at the Games with the intent to ski my best, follow my plan and not get too wrapped up in things I cannot control. I will approach this competition in the same way I approach other events and I know that, if I manage to do that, the results should follow.”
Sisters Justine and Chloé Dufour-Lapointe were named to their second Olympic team, four years after they shared the podium at Sochi 2014. Justine won her first World Cup gold medal of the season on Saturday in the final pre-Olympic competition and will aim to defend her Olympic title in February. In 2016, Chloé won the Crystal Globe as the top moguls skier on the World Cup circuit. She hasn’t found the podium yet this season but is a threat in PyeongChang.
Making her first Olympic appearance will be Andi Naude, who pre-qualified for PyeongChang 2018 based on her results in the 2016-17 season. Naude won four World Cup medals last season, including bronze at the PyeongChang 2018 test event. With three World Cup medals this season, Naude will look to land on the podium once more in PyeongChang.
Audrey Robichaud will round out the women’s moguls team. Robichaud made her Olympic debut as a seventeen-year-old at Turin 2006 where she finished eighth. After she narrowly missed qualifying for Vancouver 2010, Robichaud faced more adversity when she tore her LCL just a month before Sochi 2014. She fought back to compete and finished in the top ten. Robichaud has earned one podium finish in the 2017-18 World Cup season, winning silver at the season opener in Finland.
Philippe Marquis was named to his second Olympic team. Marquis tore his ACL during training at the Deer Valley World Cup just a few weeks ago, but is committed to recovery and hopes to come back stronger in time for February. Marquis won three World Cup medals last season, including bronze at the PyeongChang 2018 test event.
The final member of this powerhouse moguls team is Marc-Antoine Gagnon, another returning member from Sochi 2014 where he finished just off the podium in fourth place. In August 2015, Gagnon sustained a shoulder injury that required surgery and took him out of competition for almost a year. After taking some time to regain his confidence on the World Cup circuit, Gagnon landed on the podium last February in Deer Valley.
The athletes nominated to the aerials team today will all represent Canada at their first Olympic Winter Games.
Olivier Rochon was the overall aerials World Cup champion in 2012 but was unable to compete at Sochi 2014 due to an ACL tear he sustained just a few months before the Games. Rochon won bronze at the World Cup in Lake Placid just last weekend and hopes to carry that success into PyeongChang 2018.
Lewis Irving is only 22 years old but has been competing on the World Cup circuit since 2013. Irving won his first career World Cup medal at the season opener in December where he took bronze. Irving finished fourth at the World Cup held last weekend in Lake Placid.
Catrine Lavallée will be the only women competing for Canada in aerials. Lavallée won her first national title in 2016 and made her World Cup debut the same year. She has four top ten World Cup finishes in her career.
Cassie Sharpe will compete at her first Olympic Games. The 2016 X Games Oslo champion has won two gold medals this season on the halfpipe World Cup circuit. She also finished on top of the podium last month at the Dew Tour event in Colorado.
Sharpe is looking forward to her first Olympic Games, saying “I want to go to the Olympics and enjoy the environment, to be there with Canada, my family and friends and use this as an opportunity to show what I am capable of.”
Rosalind Groenewoud, who finished seventh in the inaugural women’s halfpipe competition at Sochi 2014, will join Sharpe on the women’s team. Groenewoud has achieved a lot in her career, including winning gold at the 2011 World Championships and gold at the 2012 Winter X Games. Groenewoud broke her arm just last month but has worked to return in time for PyeongChang 2018.
Reigning Olympic silver medallist Mike Riddle will lead the men’s halfpipe team. Riddle broke his shoulder blade twice in 2017, but came through it to win world championship silver in March.
Noah Bowman finished fifth at Sochi 2014 and will compete in his second Olympic Games in PyeongChang. Bowman won his second X Games medal last season, taking bronze in Aspen.
Simon d’Artois is the final member of Team Canada’s halfpipe roster and will make his Olympic debut in February. He made history in 2015 by becoming the first Canadian man to win the ski halfpipe event at the X Games and earned the first World Cup podiums of his career this season.
Dara Howell was just 19 when she won slopestyle gold at Sochi 2014 and now has a chance to defend that title. Howell took most of two years away from competition after Sochi 2014 as she struggled with believing in herself enough to train and compete at a high level again. But with the help of new coaches, she got back to the basics and re-found her love of skiing.
Kim Lamarre shared the podium with Howell at Sochi 2014, winning bronze after missing two full seasons from successive ACL tears. Just before that, she had won her second career X Games medal.
Yuki Tsubota had a tough Olympic debut at Sochi 2014. After qualifying in fourth place, she crashed in the final and suffered a concussion and fractured cheek bone. Tsubota returned to the World Cup circuit and won gold in January 2016.
Teal Harle secured his spot on the men’s team by winning gold at the final World Cup event before PyeongChang 2018. This was Harle’s second career World Cup gold following his March 2017 win in Silvaplana, Switzerland.
Evan McEachran shared the podium with Harle on Sunday, winning bronze at the World Cup in Mammoth Mountain, California. This was McEachran’s second World Cup podium finish of the season, following a silver medal win in November 2017 in Stubai, Austria. McEachran hopes to carry this momentum into PyeongChang 2018.
Alex Beaulieu-Marchand was a member of Team Canada at Sochi 2014 where he finished 12th. Beaulieu-Marchand highlighted his 2016-17 season with bronze at the World Cup in Quebec City in February 2017.
Alex Bellemare will make his Olympic debut in February. Bellemare has multiple top ten finishes this season but his World Cup career is highlighted by his victory at the Olympic test event for PyeongChang 2018.
A few of the aerials and slopestyle athletes will compete at the 2018 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado before heading to Korea. The rest of the freestyle skiing team will compete next at the Pheonix Snow Park at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
Moguls will kick off on the first day of the Games, February 9-12 followed by aerials February 15-18, slopestyle February 17-18 and halfpipe February 19-22.