“Canadian champion” isn’t a label that Darcy Sharpe is totally comfortable sticking on himself just yet, but the Whistler-based rider earned that title on Saturday (March 16) in Calgary.
Sharpe used a tremendous first run in the men’s slopestyle finals at the Sport Chek Snow Crown Canadian Snowboard Freestyle Championships to take the victory.
“There are a lot of good riders in Canada, so I don’t know if I’d consider myself the champion among them,” laughed Sharpe. “But winning at nationals is pretty good — I’m stoked. Last year I came second, so it was nice to come and get first this year.”
Also during Snow Crown competition, Whistler’s Mercedes Nicoll led a tremendous showing from Sea to Sky riders in the halfpipe by taking gold in the women’s final.
Sharpe, 17, earned a score of 96.0 from judges on his first trip down an icy course at Canada Olympic Park, enough to edge runner-up Tyler Nicholson (95.75) from Ontario for the win. B.C. rider Rhett Haubrich (89.50) placed third.
Sharpe qualified for the 20-man final with the highest score, meaning he got to drop last in each heat. The Comox native said he planned to take a conservative first run until seeing the level of riding from competitors on the course ahead of him.
“I saw these runs being thrown down, the adrenalin started pumping and I did one of the best runs I could do,” said Sharpe.
It’s been a successful few weeks for the national team rider since returning from a concussion suffered in January.
“I was just snowboarding for fun at (Mount) Seymour, caught my edge and hit my head. It was pretty silly,” said Sharpe. “I was out for almost all of February, just itching to get back on my board and learn tricks. That’s kind of what I’ve been trying to do recently — just learn tricks, be a better snowboarder and it’s paying off in contests.”
Earlier this month, Sharpe had a $3,500 payday at the Burton U.S. Open in Colorado after placing 10th against a world-class field and being named the event’s top rookie. But he almost didn’t start at the Snow Crown with concerns that concussion symptoms may have returned.
“In practice, I hit my head again and was close to pulling out,” said Sharpe. “But I went to see ski patrol and everything seemed to be that it was just a little bell-ringer.”
There’s still plenty of season left for Sharpe, who will head to Quebec for the Ride Shakedown in early April before trying for a second-straight victory in The Shred Show’s big air contest during the World Ski and Snowboard Festival in Whistler.
“Hopefully I can defend my title,” he said. “There are a lot of out-of-country people coming for that event, a bit more high-profile pro riders this year, so we’ll see what happens there.”
Nicoll repeats in pipe
Two-time Olympian Nicoll repeated as the women’s halfpipe champion at the Snow Crown, defending her title on Friday (March 15) by holding off Canadian teammate and Squamish resident Katie Tsuyuki.
Nicoll sat second behind Tsuyuki after the first of two runs, but scored an 83.67 on her next attempt to take home the victory. Nova Scotia’s Alexandra Duckworth rounded out the podium.
The semi-retired Crispin Lipscomb competed at the Snow Crown again this year, matching his bronze medal from 2012 with another third-place finish. The Pemberton resident posted the top score in the qualifiers, and finished behind national team riders Derek Livingston and Brad Martin in the final. Sharpe placed seventh in the pipe final.