Groenewoud punches Olympic halfpipe ticket after silver Saturday
Keltie Hansen and Mike Riddle win bronze on Olympic course
Canada's Rosalind Groenewoud captured a silver medal in the women's freestyle skiing halfpipe event at a World Cup on Saturday in Sochi, Russia, while teammates Keltie Hansen and Mike Riddle each won bronze.
Groenewoud clinched her Sochi Games nomination at the venue where halfpipe skiing will make its Olympic debut next year.
"I'm really pleased," Groenewoud said. "My next year will be totally focused on performing my best at the Olympics. I no longer have to really worry about the qualifying procedure, which is a really really awesome feeling.
"I can refocus away from qualifying to just put myself on a path to perform my best at the Olympics."
The Calgarian needs only a top-12 finish next season to book her ticket to Sochi.
France's Virginie Faivre took the gold with 80.8 points, edging Groenewoud who scored 79.0. Hansen, from Edmonton, earned her first podium podium of the season with a score of 76.4.
Despite warm temperatures and alternating rain and heavy wet snow, Groenewoud said the halfpipe held up well and the venue was impressive.
"It's awesome in that the moguls, aerials and halfpipe run into the same finish corral. It's absolutely beautiful," Groenewoud said. "(Friday) night while we were training we were able to watch the aerialists train at the same time, as well as watching moguls. It's a really cool venue for the whole freestyle community to be able to be there together."
Groenewoud said the only issue was the weather. The women did their qualifying runs in pouring rain Saturday morning.
"I think they did a pretty good job for the weather," she said.
The bronze medals propelled Hansen and Riddle one step closer to earning their own early nomination to the Games; both need one more key result to clinch their spots.
"It's really exciting to be on the podium with Roz," Hansen said. "We've both been working really hard this season. She's been really successful and I haven't quite been able to crack the podium yet, so I was really happy to do it here."
Riddle, from Sherwood Park, Alta., had to wait for results after falling on his second run in the best-of-two run final.
"Actually I was just happy to put down a run today because the conditions were tough," he said. "I was so nervous sitting there in third because I knew there were four more guys that are all amazing skiers and if any one of them put down the run I knew they were capable of it would have bumped me. So it was definitely nerve wracking."
Torin Yater Wallace won the men's gold with a score of 93.8, while American teammate Gus Kenworthy was second with 90.0. Riddle scored 88.2.
The final halfpipe World Cup event is scheduled for March 25 in Sierra Nevada, Spain, while the Olympic test events continue Sunday with aerials.
Noah Bowman of Calgary fell on both his runs in the final to finish 10th.
With the halfpipe medals, and Friday's mogul medals by Mikael Kingsbury and Philippe Marquis, Canada's total medal count for the Sochi test event is five.