The frustration of narrowly missing the X Games podium again was quickly replaced by elation this week for Mike Riddle, who won the last World Cup event of the season to secure the Crystal Globe for men’s halfpipe skiing.
Riddle and Canadian teammate Rosalind Groenewoud won contests shortened due to weather conditions at Sierra Nevada, Spain, on Monday (March 25), just days after both placed fourth in X Games competition at Tignes, France, on Friday (March 22).
Riddle shared the podium Monday with third-place finisher Noah Bowman of Calgary, while Penticton’s Matt Margetts was fourth. Finland’s Antti-Jussi Kemppainen took silver. Whistler’s own Simon D’Artois placed 29th.
Riddle’s win moved him past U.S. skier Torin Yater-Wallace for first in the World Cup standings.
“It’s such a cool trophy,” Riddle said of the Crystal Globe in a release. “I started out as a mogul skier, so I’ve wanted a Globe since well before I got into halfpipe. I can’t really believe I have one of my own now.”
Riddle hit the podium in three of four World Cup events this year skiing with the Whistler-based national team. On Monday, his qualifying score of 88.6 ended up as the winning mark when wind and fog led organizers to call off the finals.
“Up to this point I’ve never really been able to show that kind of consistency and do well for a whole season,” he said. “So it means so much to me to get (the Globe), it’s pretty cool.”
Riddle’s result in France last week marked the third time he’s finished fourth in an X Games contest, while Margetts placed eighth.
“I try to avoid the ‘curse’ word because people have said that and I don’t like it, but an X Games medal is definitely something I’d like to get,” said Riddle.
Groenewoud’s victory at Sierra Nevada came after the women’s event was reduced to a one-run final. She scored an 87.00 to pick up the victory, while fellow national team member Keltie Hansen finished fourth.
“It was a crazy day with the weather, and I downgraded my runs in qualifications and training, so my competition run was the first time I actually did my big tricks in the pipe here,” said Groenewoud. “I’m just really thankful for all the mileage I’ve put in that enabled me to do a good run without even training it.”
By finishing second on Monday, Switzerland’s Virginie Faivre ended the year atop the women’s World Cup rankings, just seven points ahead of Groenewoud.
Groenewoud was battling the flu Friday when defending her X Games title in Tignes. She finished just two points out of first place but the podium spots were snapped up by French skiers Marie Martinod-Routin and Anais Caradeux and American Maddie Bowman. Hansen placed sixth.
With no halfpipe competition in the World Ski and Snowboard Festival this year, the stops in France and Spain over the past week marked the last events of the season. Groenewoud said she felt that she’s made good improvements in her skiing this year as she prepares for halfpipe’s Olympic debut next winter.
“I think I made some big progress and worked on a few bad habits,” she said. “I took some steps back to fix some basics and I’m glad I did it because I have noticed that a lot of other girls are making the same mistakes I was and they’re going to have to go back and fix those basics at some point.”
Also at Tignes, Pemberton’s Yuki Tsubota placed fifth in the women’s slopestyle final, while Montreal’s Kaya Turski won the European X Games stop for the fourth year in a row. Ontario’s Dara Howell took bronze.
Ski cross final cancelled
A frustrating season for the Canadian ski cross team wrapped up without a final World Cup race, as the weather conditions at Sierra Nevada on Sunday (March 24) forced its cancellation.
Whistler’s Marielle Thompson made a late-season surge to finish seventh in the women’s standings. Kelowna’s Kelsey Serwa was the top Canadian in fourth despite ending the year injured. On the men’s side, Whistler’s Dave Duncan finished the year ranked 16th, while Brady Leman was the top Canadian on the year, winding up fifth.
The national team’s streak of consecutive Nations’ Cup titles was stopped at four, as Canada placed third behind Switzerland and France this year.
“We sat down as a team today when the race was cancelled and we set a new goal — to be No. 1 in the world again,” said head coach Eric Archer in a release.
“We need to lick our wounds and get back to work. It’s great to be winning all the time, but sometimes it’s good to reset your goals.”
Thompson is expected to compete at the FIS Freestyle Junior World Ski Championships in Italy, alongside fellow Whistler skiers Sarah Lepine and Tyler Murray, starting Friday (March 29).