Road To The Olympic Games

Freestyle Skiing·Preview

Canadians flying high ahead of freestyle skiing and snowboard worlds

Canada shouldn’t be short of confidence to open the freestyle, freeski and snowboarding world championships on Friday in Park City, Utah, after 13 of its athletes earned 15 medals during Winter X Games and World Cup action last weekend.

Multiple podium finishes raise expectations for Feb. 1-10 event in Park City, Utah

Freestyle skier Alex Beaulieu-Marchand, the reigning Olympic bronze medallist in slopestyle, won silver in the event on Jan. 27 at the Winter X Games in Aspen, Colo., after capturing big air silver the previous day. He is one of 50-plus Canadians set to compete at the freestyle, freeski and snowboard world championships in Utah. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Confidence shouldn't be an issue for many of Canada's contingent of 50-plus athletes come Friday at the freestyle, freeski and snowboard world championships in Utah.

Last weekend, freestyle skier Alex Beaulieu-Marchand and snowboarder Mark McMorris each reached the podium twice to lead a 15-medal haul by 13 Canadians at the Winter X Games in Colorado and World Cup ski cross and moguls events in Ontario and Quebec, respectively.
For 10 days in Utah, Beaulieu-Marchand, McMorris and their teammates will vie for gold medals in more than 12 disciplines in Park City and Deer Valley and on Solitude Mountain. Freeski big air, mixed team snowboard cross and team aerials are new Olympic events that will debut at worlds, which is held every two years.

With more than 1,800 athletes expected to attend from 40-plus countries, some believe this will be the largest sporting event in Utah since the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.

The freestyle world ski championships were merged with the snowboard worlds in 2015 at Kreischberg, Austria, where seven Canadians won nine medals. Two years later, Canada collected five medals in Sierra Nevada, Spain.

Here are the Canadians to watch in Utah:

Freeski big air

Alex Beaulieu-Marchand – With only one X Games medal to show for his first six trips to Aspen, Colo., the Quebec City native turned things around last weekend, earning silver in big air and slopestyle. Until then, the season highlight for the 24-year-old Beaulieu-Marchand – who won Canada's first Olympic bronze in the event last February — was a fourth-place performance at the Dew Tour in December at Breckenridge, Colo.

WATCH | Alex Beaulieu-Marchand score 92.66 points slopestyle:

The Canadian freestyle skier scored a total of 92.66 points. 1:34
Evan McEachran – The native of Oakville, Ont., narrowly missed the podium in Saturday's big air event, finishing fourth in Aspen, Colo. McEachran, 21, posted his first career win in slopestyle in December at the Dew Tour in Colorado after opening the season in September with a silver medal in the big air final at Cardrona, New Zealand. He was sixth in slopestyle at his Olympic debut last February.
Evan McEachran of Oakville, Ont., narrowly missed the podium in Saturday’s big air event, finishing fourth at the X Games in Aspen, Colo. (Getty Images/File)

Snowboard cross

Meryeta O'Dine – She opened the snowboard cross World Cup season in late December as top Canadian in 18th place at Cervinia, Italy. The 21-year-old from Prince George, B.C., had her most productive season in 2017-18 when she recorded seven top-10 finishes before missing the final four events with a concussion that dropped O'Dine from sixth to 11th in the final standings.

Ski cross

Marielle Thompson – The Whistler, B.C., native was among five Canadians in the top 10 at Saturday's ski cross World Cup at Blue Mountain in Collingwood, Ont. Thompson, 26, collected a silver medal to make it four podium finishes (zero wins) in six competitions this season. The 2014 Olympic champion entered the weekend second in the world rankings to Switzerland's Fanny Smith.

Kelsey Serwa – The 2018 Olympic gold medallist enters worlds following an eighth-place effort at a World Cup event in Collingwood, Ont. The 29-year-old Serwa, who hails from Kelowna, B.C., posted her 20th World Cup podium finish earlier this month, placing third in a ski cross big final at Idre Fjall, Sweden. She opened the World Cup season in December placing 14th at Arosa, Switzerland.

Olympic ski cross champion Kelsey Serwa reflects on her past accomplishments. 6:48

Brittany Phelan – Phelan, 27, received a scare last weekend when the Mont-Tremblant, Que., native crashed into the netting near the finish line in the four-woman ski cross big final at Blue Mountain in Collingwood, Ont. In her third World Cup season, the 2018 Olympic silver medallist posted her fourth podium finish and first of the season on Jan. 20, capturing silver in the big final at Idre Fjall, Sweden.

Reigning Olympic silver medallist Brittany Phelan of Canada posted her fourth podium finish and first of the season on Jan. 20, capturing silver in the ski cross big final at Idre Fjall, Sweden. (Getty Images)

Brady Leman – Leman continues to own Blue Mountain, fresh off his second ski cross big final victory in Collingwood, Ont., over the past three years. The 32-year-old Calgarian entered last weekend seventh in the World Cup rankings and now has 23 World Cup podium finishes.

WATCH | Brady Leman's 3rd career victory at Blue Mountain:

Brady Leman posts his 2nd victory at Blue Mountain in the past 3 years. 3:31
Earlier this season, the 2018 Olympic gold medallist raced to bronze at a World Cup event in Italy.

Snowboard big air

Mark McMorris – He has snowboarded only a handful of times since having screws removed from his leg late in 2018, but McMorris appears back in top form after collecting X Games gold and silver in slopestyle and big air, respectively, last weekend in Colorado. A two-time Olympic bronze medallist in slopestyle, the 25-year-old Regina native now as 17 X Games medals, one shy of American Shaun White's record.

WATCH | McMorris soars to slopestyle gold:

Canadian Mark McMorris won his eighth-career X Games gold medal on Saturday in Aspen. 2:05

Darcy Sharpe – Sharpe, 22, is coming off a sixth-place finish in slopestyle and was seventh in big air last weekend at the X Games in Aspen, Colo. As of Jan. 28, the Whistler, B.C., resident ranked 29th on the world snowboarding points list. Injuries prevented Sharpe from earning enough points to qualify for last year's Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Canada's Darcy Sharpe is coming off a pair of top-10 finishes in slopestyle and big air last weekend at the X Games in Aspen, Colo. As of Jan. 28, he ranked 29th on the world snowboarding points list. (Hannah Peters/Getty Images/File)

Laurie Blouin – The freestyle skier from Stoneham, Que., landed a clean cab double cork 900 and frontside 900 to earn gold in women's big air at her X Games debut last week in Colorado.

WATCH | Blouin shine at her X Games debut in Aspen, Colo.:

The Canadian made the most of her X Games debut, winning gold in the women's snowboarding big air by narrowly edging out New Zealand's Zoi Sadowski-Synnott. 2:34
Blouin, 22, won a bronze medal in big air during World Cup action in November at Beijing. At last year's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, she was a silver medallist in slopestyle.

Team Canada in Utah

FREESTYLE

Big Air/slopestyle

Alex Beaulieu-Marchand (Quebec City), Evan McEachran (Oakville, Ont.), Teal Harle (Campbell River, B.C.), Philippe Langevin (Mont-Tremblant, Que.), Yuki Tsubota (Whistler, B.C.), Elena Gaskell (Vernon, B.C.), alternate: Max Moffatt (Caledon, Ont.).

Halfpipe

Noah Bowman (Calgary), Simon d'Artois (Whistler, B.C.), Brendan Mackay (Calgary), Evan Marineau (Calgary), Cassie Sharpe (Comox, B.C.), Rachael Karker (Erin, Ont.).

Ski cross

Marielle Thompson (Whistler, B.C.), Kelsey Serwa (Kelowna, B.C.), Brittany Phelan (Mont-Tremblant, Que.), Brady Leman (Calgary), Chris Del Bosco (Montreal), Kevin Drury (Toronto), Mikayla Martin (Squamish, B.C.), Reece Howden (Cultus Lake, B.C.).

SNOWBOARD

Alpine

Darren Gardner (Burlington, Ont.), Jasey-Jay Anderson (Mont-Tremblant, Que.), Sebastien Beaulieu (Sherbrooke, Que.), Arnaud Gaudet (Montcalm, Que.), Megan Farrell (Richmond Hill, Ont.), Katrina Gerencser (Burlington, Ont.), Jennifer Hawkrigg (Toronto), Kaylie Buck (Oakville, Ont.).

Halfpipe

Derek Livingstone (Aurora, Ont.), Shawn Fair (Calgary), Jack Collins (Calgary), Braeden Adams (Calgary), Elizabeth Hosking (Longueuil, Que.).

Slopestyle/big air

Mark McMorris (Regina), Tyler Nicholson (North Bay, Ont.), Darcy Sharpe (Comox, B.C.), Michael Ciccarelli (Ancaster, Ont.), Laurie Blouin (Stoneham, Que.), Brooke Voigt (Fort McMurray, Alta.), Jasmine Baird (Georgetown, Ont.), Sommer Gendron (Toronto0.

Moguls

Mikael Kingsbury (Deux-Montagnes, Que.), Philippe Marquis (Quebec City), Laurent Dumais (Quebec City), Brenden Kelly (Pemberton, B.C.), Justine Dufour-Lapointe (Montreal), Chloe Dufour-Lapointe (Montreal), Sofiane Gagnon (Whistler, B.C.), Maia Schwinghammer (Saskatoon).

Aerials

Felix Cormier-Boucher (Saint-Mathias-sur-Richelieu, Que.), Catrine Lavallee (Montreal).

About the Author

Doug Harrison has covered the professional and amateur scene as a senior writer for CBC Sports since 2003. Previously, the Burlington, Ont., native covered the NHL and other leagues for Faceoff.com. Follow the award-winning journalist @harrisoncbc

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