Sharpe from the start in women’s ski halfpipe
Cassie Sharpe (CAN) needed just two runs in the freestyle ski halfpipe, landing in the gold-medal spot after each. French veteran Marie Martinod took silver at PyeongChang 2018 on 20 February. Brita Sigourney led the US trio of finalists with her bronze medal.
Current world number one Sharpe began her third and final run having already secured gold at Phoenix Snow Park. She crashed out after back-to-back 900s, but put in another trick for fun as she coasted down to the bottom of the halfpipe to wrap the Canadian flag round her shoulders.
Sharpe’s second run slightly bettered her first, at 95.80, as she proved her maxim, “Fear is not real.” After back-to-back 900s and a big truck driver, she finished with a glorious 1080, a trick being performed by only a handful of female freestyle skiers.
Second silver for Martinod
Martinod, 33, competed in her last Olympics, looking for a medal to add to her silver at Sochi 2014. Her second-run score of 92.60 clinched silver, as she landed superb back-to-back 540s, and a huge 1080 to rival Sharpe’s. She scooped up her daughter in her arms after the final, having said she is giving up competitive skiing to have more children.
Sigourney won bronze with her third-run score of 91.60. She landed a massive, stylish 900, and big back-to-back 540s. She had a tense wait at the bottom with team-mate Annalisa Drew, who had briefly been in third place, before Sigourney won back her podium spot, and the pair gave each other a huge hug.
Kexin Zhang (CHN), aged just 15, finished 9th, with a top score of 73.00, after an excellent technical run. Sochi 2014 gold medallist Maddie Bowman didn’t land any of her runs and finished 11th, while qualifier Anais Caradeux (CAN) did not start the final.
Elation blurs Sharpe’s focus
“I am elated,” said Sharpe. “It doesn’t feel real yet. I need to go and hug my family and really feel the love, but it feels great as so much hard work has gone into this.” Sharpe said before the final that she wanted to qualify in first place so she could ski last and have the chance of a victory lap. Although she fell on the final run, the Canadian still cherished her last moments in the pipe.
“When you have your hard-as-nails coach up the top in tears, it is kind of hard to zone in on what you are doing... I didn’t realise maybe how much my emotions would be gone at that point. I had a moment when I fell and I was just sliding back, looking back up the pipe and thinking, ‘You have done it.’”
Martinod’s silver came after she returned to the sport following a five-year absence. “I am done,” she said. “I have given a lot to this sport and it has given me back a lot but it is time for me to move on and do other stuff.” She will, however, compete in the last World Cup event in Tignes in March.