Two of Canada’s National Freestyle Ski Team members won medals in the halfpipe event Friday, at the World Cup in Copper Mountain, Colorado. Rachael Karker was stunning in silver on the women’s podium, while Brendan Mackaywas bold in bronze in the men’s event.
Ranked fourth provisionally after qualifying, Karker fell Friday on her very first run of the final, but came back strong after being able to refocus. The reigning vice-world-champion scored 89.5 points on her second attempt, and then added a score of 90 points to that in the next round, to secure a silver medal.
“It’s never good to fall on your first run – that always adds extra stress, but I also knew I had two more chances. I’d done this trick a few times in the past, so I just pulled myself together and kept going,” said the Guelph, Ontario native.
China’s Ailing Eileen Gu took the gold medal with 90.5 points, and Kelly Sildary of Estonia rounded out the podium with a bronze and 88.75 points.
Cassie Sharpe (Comox, BC) was also in the final, and earned herself a solid sixth place finish. Her third and final run was her best, and earned her 83.25 points. It was Sharpe’s first time competing since she injured her knee less than a year ago at X-Games.
Today’s result is significant to Rachael Karker, who’s likely to need to start considering a bigger shelf, given that she now has eight World Cup medals to display.
“I’m really happy! We only had a few days of training here in Colorado because we were in Europe this fall, so I’m happy that I was able to do a good run in the final. I didn’t have many expectations at the beginning of the day,” continued the 24-year-old. “I was hoping for a podium and to be happy with my run – both of which I accomplished. It’s very motivating for future events.”
Dillan Glennie (Courtenay, BC) and Amy Fraser (Calgary, AB) saw their efforts come to an end in the qualifying rounds, placing 11th and 13th, respectively.
Brendan Mackay’s stunning comeback
A few minutes after his teammate Karker’s success, it was Brendan Mackay’s turn to shine at this first World Cup of the 2021-2022 calendar.
Mackay’s second appearance in the halfpipe ended up being the most rewarding, earning him 90.50 points. Only American Alex Ferreira (93.5 points) and New Zealand’s Nico Porteous (92.25 points) were able to better the Canadian’s score.
All in all, today was a reassuring and gratifying performance for Mackay, who one short month ago, injured his knee in training. In recent weeks, the injury had greatly influenced his ability to prepare, so today’s results are proof positive he’s on the right track.
“It’s fantastic! I didn’t have a lot of expectations coming here, so I’m super happy to finish on the podium,” said the 24-year-old about his third career medal on the world cup circuit.
“Coming back from injury, I knew I might not be able to perform as well as my competitors, but I still wanted to ski the best I could in style, and give it my all. It’s a great way to start the season and I can’t wait for the next world cup.”
Canada was well-represented in the men’s final, with no less than four Canucks taking part. Simon D’Artois (Whistler, BC) finished fifth with 86 points, followed closely by compatriot Noah Bowman (Calgary, AB), sixth with 85 points. Dylan Marineau(Calgary, AB) ended up in ninth place with 77.25 points.
Ethan Fernandes (16th), Evan Marineau (17th), Peter Verheyde (23rd) and Steven Kahnert (34th) saw their days come to an end in the qualifying rounds.
Stayed tuned for post-holiday athletic excellence – the next Halfpipe World Cup will be held at home in Calgary, on December 30, 2021.