Despite coming away empty-handed from the FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships, there were some positives to take away for the Whistler-based Canadian halfpipe team.
After a strong Monday (March 4) qualifying session that saw four Canadian men and two women advance to the 12-skier finals, none were able to find the podium in Tuesday’s (March 5) finals from Voss, Norway.
However, Mike Riddle’s fourth-place finish in the men’s final was enough to earn him an early berth to next year’s Olympics, where the sport will make its Games debut.
“It takes a lot of pressure off for the rest of the season and for next year, so I’m just going to now focus on getting the best run I can and keep it going,” Riddle said in a release.
Riddle’s best run on Tuesday wasn’t enough for him to defend his FIS world title from 2011, as his 89.4 score from the judges still left him five points shy of a podium spot. Winner David Wise, runner-up and fellow U.S. skier Torin Yater-Wallace and Frenchman Thomas Krief were on another level compared to the rest of the field Tuesday with scores in the mid-90s that could have arguably been higher.
Meanwhile, Whistler local Simon d’Artois did well to get into the finals and was the next-best Canadian, placing ninth with a 76.8. On his second of two runs Tuesday, he landed the double-cork opening hit that has caused him trouble at times this year and wound up putting an impressive run to his feet.
“I am super stoked I landed my second run,” said d’Artois, who competed for the first time since suffering a concussion in a crash one month ago. “I have never done a run like that before, so it’s pretty sweet and I’m excited.
“It definitely boosts my confidence a lot just to know I can compete with the rest of the field.”
Penticton’s Matt Margetts was the top men’s qualifier but finished 11th, while Canadian teammate Noah Bowman finished 10th.
Canada also had the defending women’s champ in the field at Voss, but Rosalind Groenewoud fell on both finals runs when attempting a 1080 for her last hit, leaving her in 12th spot.
Groenewoud had landed the trick for the first time on Monday en route to qualifying second, and later said she plans to use the 1080 to cap off her runs in Sochi next year.
“My whole run combination has changed and the 1080 is new and I don’t have the mileage on it because it is so new,” said Groenewoud, who earned her early berth to next year’s Olympics last month. “I’m really, really happy to be pushing myself, though obviously I’m not happy with today’s result.”
Edmonton’s Keltie Hansen also advanced to the finals and finished seventh. Swiss skier Virginie Faivre won with an 83.8, while France’s Anais Caradeux and Japanese skier Ayana Onozuka took the next two podium spots.
More local skiers will be in action at the world championships later this week, with slopestyle finals planned for Saturday (March 9) and ski cross finals on Sunday (March 10).