Canada's Mike Riddle wins halfpipe silver at worlds
Canadian misses gold medal by 2.2 points
Edmonton's Mike Riddle won silver in the men's skiing halfpipe on Saturday at the world freestyle skiing championships.
It's his second world championship medal after earning a gold in 2011.
Riddle finished with 89.60 points, behind American Aaron Blunck (91.80) and ahead of France's Kevin Rolland (88.40).
"It feels amazing to be here," Riddle said. "I'm coming back from injury and I was just trying to put down my run as well as I could. As soon as I found out I was going to be on the podium, I was happy because this is what I came here to do. I'm unbelievably happy with silver."
Riddle, back on the halfpipe for the first time since reaggravating a broken shoulder blade four weeks earlier, started Saturday's final with a mediocre first run that had him in sixth place with 72.8 points.
He rebounded in his second run — following five consecutive skiers who had crashed out on the hard, icy pipe — and landed a series of impressive tricks highlighted by a double-cork 1200 and a switch-700 en route to the silver medal.
Not 100 per cent
Riddle first broke his shoulder blade in January, causing him to miss the X Games in Aspen and a good chunk of the season. After rehabbing for a few weeks in Calgary, Riddle broke the bone again in February in Pyeongchang, still managing to finish in sixth place at an Olympic test event.
"I'm definitely not 100 per cent yet, I'm probably only 70 or 80 per cent at most. So I'm just not allowed to fall on my shoulder," Riddle said with a laugh. "This is the last event [of the season] so I rushed back for it because it was my last chance."
With the 2018 Olympics less than a year away, making the Canadian team for Pyeongchang and defending, or improving, on his halfpipe silver from the Sochi Games helped serve as Riddle's motivation this season.
Results at the world championships are used in qualifying for the Canadian team.
"The Olympic team is a competitive team to make," Riddle said. "There's definitely a lot of motivation to solidify a spot for next year."
The 30-year-old Riddle finished fourth at the last world championships in Norway in 2013 after winning gold in the 2011 version at Copper Mountain in Colorado.
Riddle and the rest of Canada's freestyle ski team will now travel to Calgary for a training camp where he'll have his shoulder re-examined and get back on a rehab schedule.
If everything checks out, Riddle will be back on the pipe as soon as possible.
"It's definitely not worth risking anything at this point in the season, but hopefully I'll be good enough to do some stuff over there," he said. "Springtime is the best time for us to learn new tricks because the pipe gets really slushy and soft and it's a lot lower risk.
"Mostly what I need is time, though. You can't really stabilize a scapula so I haven't had time to heal. I've just been battling with this throughout the season and what I really need now is a break."
World champs debut
Noah Bowman (85.80) was sixth and Brendan MacKay (82.80) was seventh, both from Calgary. Simon d'Artois (39.40) of Whistler, B.C., was ninth.
Competing in his first ever world championships appearance, MacKay didn't feel out of his comfort zone.
"I didn't feel like there was any more pressure, and it wasn't any more difficult. All you can really do in the pipe is go as big as you can, execute your tricks as smoothly as possible, and that was my plan. I didn't quite put my run down as smoothly as I would have hoped, but I was doing a new trick [alley-oop double flat spin 900] and managed to land it in my first run," Mackay said.
Groenewoud leads Canadian women
Fresh off a new run during the World Cup in Tignes, France, which included her switch cork 720, Cassie Sharpe came into the event with high expectations but was unable to meet them as she failed to qualify for the finals.
Rosalind Groenewoud was the top female Canadian women finishing in seventh position, while Keltie Hansen and Megan Warrener finished 14th and 22nd respectively.
With files from CBC Sports