Reigning Olympic champion Cassie Sharpe leads 6 Canadians into freeski halfpipe final

Reigning Olympic champion Cassie Sharpe qualified for the women's freeski halfpipe final alongside fellow Canadians Rachael Karker and Amy Fraser on Thursday morning at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games.

Calgary's Mackay top Canadian in men's qualifying, joined by Bowman and d'Artois

Canada's Cassie Sharpe reacts after her second run during the women's freeski halfpipe qualifications on Thursday morning at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Reigning Olympic champion Cassie Sharpe qualified for the women's freeski halfpipe final alongside fellow Canadians Rachael Karker and Amy Fraser on Thursday morning at the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games.

The top 12 out of 20 skiers advanced based on their best score of two runs at Genting Snow Park.

U.S.-born superstar Eileen Gu, who already won big air gold and slopestyle silver in Beijing, was the top skier on both runs with outstanding scores of 93.75 and 95.50.

Karker, from Erin, Ont., laid down a technical first run that ended with a switch 540 to earn her 88.50, putting her comfortably in second place. The 24-year-old Olympic rookie finished with another clean run to improve her score to 89.50 — with only Gu scoring better.

"The halfpipe is beautiful. It's a beautiful day. I'm super happy that the sun came out for our second runs, and it's riding really well," Karker said. "I think I did well, I'm super happy to make the finals and to put a good run down."

Karker won halfpipe silver at the 2021 world championships. She is a three-time X Games medallist in superpipe, and finished third in World Cup standings with three podium finishes this season.

Sharpe also looked great on her opening run, earning 86.25 while executing a left side 900 as her Canadian teammates cheered her on.

She was in fourth place heading into her final run, but was ultimately bumped down to sixth after posting the eighth best second run (79.00).

The 29-year-old from Comox, B.C., won halfpipe gold four years ago in Pyeongchang in her Olympic debut.

She has since battled back from a knee injury, with the chance to make history as the first woman to win back-to-back Olympic titles in the eight-year old event.

"The halfpipe is the best that it has been all week, so it's pretty fun to get out there," Sharpe said.

WATCH | Sharpe qualifies for freeski halfpipe final:

Defending Olympic champ Cassie Sharpe qualifies for freeski halfpipe final

9 months ago
Duration 2:11
2018 Olympic champion Cassie Sharpe of Comox, B.C., qualified in sixth place for the women's freestyle skiing halfpipe final at Beijing 2022.

Calgary's Fraser was in 11th after her first run (75.25). She was unable to move up after slightly improving her score on the second (75.75), but no competitors were able to bump her down. The 26-year-old is also competing at her first Games.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Gu has faced backlash for her decision to represent her mother's home country of China. She won the big air event after becoming the second female skier to ever land a double 1620 in competition.

"I'm feeling really good and I'm just having the most fun out here, honestly, that's what the sport is all about. I love the halfpipe so much and I love skiing so much," Gu said.

WATCH | Gu qualifies for halfpipe final in top spot:

American-born Eileen Gu of China qualifies in top spot for freeski halfpipe final

9 months ago
Duration 2:19
U.S.-born superstar Eileen Gu, who already won big air gold and slopestyle silver in Beijing, was the top skier on both runs with outstanding scores of 93.75 and 95.50.

Kelly Sildaru, a 10-time X Games medallist, qualified in third after calling it a day following one run (87.50). She is fresh off winning Estonia's first-ever Olympic medal in freestyle skiing with bronze in slopestyle.

"I'm happy that I qualified for the finals, I'm surprised that it has scored so much," Sildaru said. "It was the safer run what I did, so I definitely want to do a better run tomorrow and better tricks."

The women's freeski halfpipe final gets underway on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. ET, and will be streamed live on CBC Gem, the CBC Sports app and CBC Sports' Beijing 2022 website.

WATCH | Returning Champions: Cassie Sharpe:

Returning Champions: Cassie Sharpe

11 months ago
Duration 4:11
Canadian ski halfpipe athlete Cassie Sharpe looks back on her Olympic gold medal in PyeongChang, her traumatic injury that held her out for most of the 2021 season and her mentality heading into the Beijing 2022.

Mackay leads Canadian trio into men's final

Calgary's Brendan Mackay was the top Canadian in the men's qualifying, posting the fifth best score to qualify into the finals.

"I feel really good, the pipe is fantastic and everyone is skiing super well and I'm very happy to put down my runs," said the 24-year-old Olympic rookie, who had the second-best score after the run.

Fellow Calgarian Noah Bowman qualified for the final in sixth place, while Simon d'Artois of Whistler, B.C., rounded out the Canadian contingent qualifying in eighth place.

Aaron Blunck of the United States finished first in men's qualifying, followed by Nico Porteous of New Zealand and Birk Irving of the U.S. Two-time defending champion David Wise qualified in fourth.

WATCH | Brendan Mackay leads Canadian trio into olympic ski halfpipe final:

Brendan Mackay leads Canadian trio into Olympic ski halfpipe final

9 months ago
Duration 1:59
Brendan Mackay finished fifth in the men's ski halfpipe qualification round at Beijing 2022, joining Mackay in the final are fellow Canadians Noah Bowman who placed sixth and Simon d'Artois who ended up in 8th.

With files from The Associated Press

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