Whistler halfpipe skier Simon d’Artois is recovering well from a concussion suffered in the finals of the U.S. Grand Prix World Cup stop in Park City, Utah, on Saturday (Feb. 2).
D’Artois hit his head during the first of his two runs in the 12-man final and was knocked unconscious. The 21-year-old spent a night in hospital for observation, experiencing extreme nausea after the crash.
D’Artois said most of what happened after the accident was “a blur” but he did remember what caused him to fall.
“I kind of popped a little bit hard off the wall and as I was coming around, I knew I was going to land pretty deep in the pipe and didn’t want to land backwards,” he said Tuesday (Feb. 5). “I decided to pop around and do a 9 instead of a 7, and I just landed low and didn’t have the strength to hold myself up, so that’s when my head swung back and hit the snow.”
The accident took place in the same halfpipe where Sarah Burke’s fatal accident took place in 2012. However, d’Artois said the pipe was one of the nicer ones he’s been in this year despite a steeper cut that forced skiers to be a little more careful on takeoffs.
D’Artois will be travelling with the team to Sochi for the Olympic test event, but won’t compete. He said he expects to return in time for the FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships in Norway in March.
“I’m pretty excited to just check out Russia, and even if I don’t get to compete, hopefully I’ll get on snow and ski through the halfpipe a little bit,” he said.
Teammate Megan Gunning, however, is out for the remainder of the season after tearing her ACL at the event.
D’Artois was one of three Canadians to qualify for Saturday’s men’s final, getting in on a wildcard score of 85.4. He was officially 11th on Saturday.
Teammates Mike Riddle and Matt Margetts had top-three scores in qualifying but were held off the podium in the finals, with Riddle finishing sixth and Margetts placing seventh. U.S. skier David Wise took the victory.
The Canadian women also came up short of the medals despite qualifying three skiers for the final. Rosalind Groenewoud led the group with a fifth-place result, while Gunning finished eighth and Keltie Hansen was 12th. American Maddie Bowman won the event.
There was also a snowboard halfpipe event at Park City, in which Whistler’s Mercedes Nicoll earned her best finish of the season by placing ninth.
Nicoll was the lone Canadian women’s rider to advance from qualifications, earning entry into the semifinals. However, her score of 68.75 wasn’t enough to get her through to the six-woman final. China’s Jiayu Liu finished first.
Ricker fourth at Blue Mountain
Maëlle Ricker settled for fourth place in the World Cup snowboard cross race at Ontario’s Blue Mountain on Saturday (Feb. 2) after she got tangled up with another rider in the final.
Ricker, who captured a world championship title in Quebec the week before, got the hole shot in the women’s final at Blue Mountain, but dropped back to third. While jockeying for position, she collided with the Czech Republic’s Eva Samkova, who went on to win.
Canada’s Dominique Maltais took the silver and French rider Nelly Moenne Loccoz finished third.
In the men’s race, North Vancouver’s Chris Robanske gave Canada its first win in a World Cup snowboard cross race in six years, sharing the podium with Australia’s Nick Pullin and U.S. rider Nick Baumgartner, who were second and third, respectively.
Squamish’s Rob Fagan finished sixth at Blue Mountain, while Whistler’s Matthew Tunnicliffe placed 52nd.
Thompson, Duncan don’t advance
A shortened World Cup ski cross race in Germany over the weekend saw Whistler’s Marielle Thompson and Dave Duncan both watching Sunday’s (Feb. 3) race heats from the sidelines.
The stop at Grasgehren was supposed to be a doubleheader, but weather conditions forced the cancellation of Saturday’s qualifier and race. When action resumed Sunday, Thompson and Duncan both missed entry into the heats by just three positions.
Thompson’s qualifying time left her about four-tenths of a second out of the top 16 advancing, as she placed 19th. Duncan’s 35th-place result in qualifications came after he was two-tenths short of the men’s top 32. He officially finished 34th due to a disqualification.
Canmore, Alta., native Tristan Tafel earned the second World Cup podium finish of his career by placing second at Grasgehren. Brady Leman won the small final to finish fifth.
In the women’s event, Georgia Simmerling finished fourth to lead the Canadians. Danielle Sundquist was the only other team member to ski in Sunday’s heats, finishing 15th.
Reigning women’s world champion Kelsey Serwa of Kelowna skipped the event as she prepares for the next World Cup stop — the test event in Sochi, Russia. It’s expected that men’s world champ Chris Del Bosco will make his return to the circuit there after missing the first half of the season to injury. He was a forerunner in Grasgehren.
Henitiuk outside top 20
Whistler’s Chelsea Henitiuk finished outside the top 20 in back-to-back World Cup moguls contests at Utah’s Deer Valley Resort last week, the first times she’s been held out of the finals this season.
Henitiuk finished 22nd in the singles event taking place last Thursday (Jan. 31) before finishing 23rd in dual moguls qualification on Saturday. The World Cup moguls circuit also heads next to Sochi, where it is expected that Whistler’s Eddie Hicks will make his return to competition from an early-season injury.