Vancouver, January 20, 2022 – Brendan Mackay and Rachael Karker kicked off the Calgary World Cup with silver medals in Thursday evening’s halfpipe events.
One month after finishing second at Copper Mountain, Mackay stormed into the big final at the Snow Rodeo in Alberta. On his first descent, the local skier put down a spectacular run, earning a score of 94.50 points as spectators cheered him on at the bottom of the course.
Only in the penultimate run of the competition was his score beaten, by Finland’s Jon Sallinen. The 22-year-old was simply sensational, earning 96.00 points to take the lead in the event.
The pressure then shifted back to Mackay, the very last competitor to start, but a wipe-out ended his hopes of a third straight win in his hometown, after his one-two in December 2021.
“Still, I’m really happy with my result! There were several good runs tonight and Jon (Sallinen) put the pressure on at the very last second. His skiing was just incredible,” said Mackay. It was Sallinen’s first career World Cup win.
“You always hope to be able to do a victory lap at the end, but when I saw Jon’s run, I knew I’d have to do even better to stay in the running,” continued Mackay. “I was a bit nervous, but I got myself fired up and did my very best. I increased the level of difficulty, but I slid out doing one maneuver in the middle. Still, a silver medal is a great way to end the day!”
Not far behind him, Simon D’Artois also claimed a spot on the podium thanks to a flawless third run. His score of 93.00 enabled him to advance past Alex Ferreira of the USA (92.50) to clinch the bronze medal.
“Alex had just gotten ahead of me, and the pressure was on! For my last run, I wanted to do a little more to show what I’m really capable of, and I managed to put together all the necessary elements to make it to the podium. I’m really happy!” said D’Artois, of Whistler, BC.
Noah Bowman (80.50) and Dylan Marineau (56.75), both of Calgary, also advanced to the men’s final and finished eighth and tenth, respectively.
Andrew Longino (15th, Calgary, AB), Evan Marineau (22nd, Calgary, AB), Benjamin Lynch (25th, Vancouver, BC), Jack Huckerby (27th, Calgary, AB), Adam Fiselier (28th, Calgary, AB) and Joshua Podulsky (30th, Calgary, AB) did not advance past the qualifying rounds earlier in the day.
Karker puts up good fight against Eileen Gu
The women’s final featured a contest between Rachael Karker and the Olympic champion in the discipline, Eileen Gu of China. Gu came out on top with a 95.00-point first run, claiming her ninth career win on the circuit and her sixth in the halfpipe.
Karker pulled out all the stops in an attempt to defeat her rival, but was unable to get ahead. After two unsuccessful runs, the skier from Guelph, Ontario, put it all down on her final run, earning a score of 89.00.
“I really gave it my all at the end and I’m happy with my performance. As I came down, I knew it wasn’t clean enough to beat Eileen, but I’m super proud to have improved my score each time. Also, the crowd was great, which was really nice,” said Karker, a few minutes after the competition.
Hanna Faulhaber of the USA (77.25 points) rounded out the podium, finishing just ahead of Amy Fraser (Calgary, AB), who placed fourth with 74.75.
The only other Canadian in the final was Dillan Glennie (Courtenay, BC), who finished seventh with 67.50 points. Also in action were Emma Morozumi (Calgary, AB) and Vienna Biletsky (Calgary, AB), who placed 13th and 15th, respectively, in the qualifiers.
The athletes will not have to wait long before returning to the halfpipe. They will be back on the slopes on Friday afternoon, hoping to secure a spot in Saturday evening’s final.