Canadians flying high ahead of freestyle skiing and snowboard worlds
Multiple podium finishes raise expectations for Feb. 1-10 event in Park City, Utah
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.:
Team Canada in Utah
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.).
Noah Bowman (Calgary), Simon d'Artois (Whistler, B.C.), Brendan Mackay (Calgary), Evan Marineau (Calgary), Cassie Sharpe (Comox, B.C.), Rachael Karker (Erin, Ont.).
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.).
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.).
Derek Livingstone (Aurora, Ont.), Shawn Fair (Calgary), Jack Collins (Calgary), Braeden Adams (Calgary), Elizabeth Hosking (Longueuil, Que.).
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.
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).
Felix Cormier-Boucher (Saint-Mathias-sur-Richelieu, Que.), Catrine Lavallee (Montreal).