Teal Harle is celebrating his first World Cup win of the season after claiming first place at the FIS Slopestyle World Cup event at Mammoth Mountain, Calif. on Sunday (Jan. 21) —also locking in his spot on the Canadian freestyle slopestyle team for the upcoming Olympic Winter Games in the process.
The win, “feels amazing!” wrote 21-year-old Harle in a message from California following the contest. “I can’t believe I won today! Definitely a confidence booster going into the rest of the season.”
But with Mammoth serving as the last World Cup stop before the final date of the Olympic selection period, Sunday’s win carries a little extra weight for the Whistler resident as he prepares to represent Canada on the world’s biggest stage for the first time. “I didn’t want to ask my coach what I needed to qualify for the Olympics before my runs to avoid putting some extra pressure. But I knew I definitely needed to land a run in finals. Later my coach confirmed I needed a top 10 otherwise I was out,” he explained.
The victory marks Harle’s second career World Cup win, following his gold-medal performance in Switzerland last year. Since kicking off the World Cup season in New Zealand in August with a 21st-place result, Harle, from Campbell River, B.C., has racked up another 21st in Austria and 15th in Snowmass earlier this month. Sunday’s win moved Harle up to seventh place in the overall World Cup Slopestyle standings.
“I’m feeling really good about myself and my skiing. I haven’t had the best results so far, other than this win. But I’m learning with every event and figuring out what I can do and what I need to do to get the result I’m looking for,” he said.
Despite earning a score of 94.20 in his final run, “I didn’t have the best training on the course, so I had to rely a lot on visualization. Because I wasn’t physically prepared for the event I had to be mentally on it,” Harle explained. “I really didn’t like the course at first and changed my plans like 10 times. The speed was really bad — hard to make it over the jumps — and so I didn’t have a chance to train my jump tricks until the qualifier.”
Harle credits a rodeo 720 genie on the quarterpipe feature as the trick that pushed his run over the edge. “It was a pretty unique trick and I think the judges rewarded me for it. I also went super big on the jumps and the judges seem to like that.”
But Harle wasn’t the only Canadian to stomp his runs on Sunday. Teammate Evan McEachran finished in the bronze medal position with his score of 91.40. “Sharing the podium with Evan was amazing,” he said. “I’ve been dreaming about a double Canadian podium for a while. It hasn’t been done in slopestyle ever, or in a long, long time. So it feels great going into the Olympics with such a stacked team from Canada.”
On the women’s side, Whistler’s Yuki Tsubota had a strong event, finishing 14th in the finals behind teammate Dara Howell. Whistlerite Sofia Tchernetsky, 15, also competed in her fourth World Cup appearance, earning 19th.