Oldham steps onto the podium at her first-ever World Champs event
Aspen, Colorado – March 13, 2021: The last time Megan Oldham was in Aspen, she took home two X Games medals. Fast forward to a month later, Oldham returns to compete in her first-ever World Championships to claim a bronze medal. It’s fair to say the 19-year-old Ontario skier from Parry Sound has had a successful season so far.
Qualifications took place on Friday, where Oldham was able to make it through to today’s finals after placing 4th behind Switzerland’s Mathilde Gremaud. A similar scenario unfolded during today’s finals, where Oldham finished 3rd after the Swiss with a score of 76.18, a mere 0.97 points behind Gremaud’s 77.15.
Oldham’s first run didn’t go as she had anticipated. Following a fall on the first rail of the course, the freeskier was now limited to two runs to make it count. During today’s finals format, the field of competitors was given the opportunity to land their best run out of three attempts.
Things went smoother during Oldham’s second attempt where she was able to put down a clean rail section with three different 900 variations on the jumps. This placed Oldham in third for the meantime behind France’s Tess Ledeux. Gremaud was the next skier to go for a second attempt. The Swiss skier successfully landed a top-to-bottom run and moved into the silver medal spot, which bumped Oldham out of third position down to fourth.
The grey Aspen skies showed the possibility of a snowstorm, which was forecasted to hit the ski resort throughout the event. Fortunately for the competitors, the storm never made an appearance. Instead, a few contestants had to deal with strong winds which made it challenging to land a complete run.
“It was a little tricky with the wind,” mentioned Oldham after landing her third run. “We were expecting a snowstorm but it turned out better than I expected. Luckily the weather held off for most of the event. The wind wasn’t bad for my run, I got lucky with timing.”
The stars aligned for Oldham’s third effort. With minimal wind, the podium contender cleaned up her run and added a left double cork 1260 as her last jump, improving her score to 76.18 which slid her back into third place overtaking Ledeux’s 74.95.
“I was super excited to land the 1260,” added Oldham. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to do it coming in. It was a bit of a last-minute decision, but after feeling good about the first part of my run I decided to go for it.”
Going for it was the right decision, as the 1260 helped secure a podium spot for the Ontario freeskier. “It definitely feels unreal to get a bronze at my first World Championships!”
The top female freeskier of the day, China’s Eileen Gu, made history by clinching a gold medal in the slopestyle event, after winning yesterday’s halfpipe finals. Gu is the first freeskier to win back-to-back gold in two different events at a World Championship.
On the men’s side, Evan McEachran from Oakville, ON, and Max Moffatt of Caledon, ON, finished the day in 8th and 11th place respectively.
McEachran, who qualified into the finals with a third place, landed his first run of three. This attempt looked like a promising podium contending run, flowing through the first section of the course with his signature rail technicality. Unfortunately, McEachran barely missed the grab on his last jump, which led to a sizable deduction, leaving him with a score of 74.61. During his second run, McEachran took a fall on the last rail of the top section and failed to put a third run together.
Moffatt who is known for his smooth style and technical rail skiing could have easily been a podium contender. Unfortunately, he was unable to land a full run, finishing the day with a top score of 51.81.
The World Freeski Championships continue Monday with the big air qualifications.
Complete World Championships Slopestyle Results:
CANADIAN ATHLETES’ PLACINGS:
Women: Megan Oldham (3), Olivia Asselin (18)
Men: Evan McEachran (8), Max Moffatt (11), Teal Harle (18), Édouard Therriault (32)