Canada picks up 3 medals at freeski halfpipe World Cup in Calgary

Freestyle ski star Eileen Gu was victorious in her first competition since taking Beijing's Olympic Games by storm and Canadians collected a pair of silver medals and a bronze in World Cup halfpipe Thursday in Calgary.

Reigning Olympic champion Eileen Gu of China wins women's event

A male and female skier smile while standing together on the podium in front of a banner that reads "Snow Rodeo".
Canadian freestyle skiers Brendan Mackay, left, and Rachael Karker pose together after winning silver medals at the freeski halfpipe World Cup 'Snow Rodeo' event in Calgary on Thursday night. (@FreestyleCanada/Twitter)

Freestyle ski star Eileen Gu was victorious in her first competition since taking Beijing's Olympic Games by storm and Canadians collected a pair of silver medals and a bronze in World Cup halfpipe Thursday in Calgary.

The American-born Gu hit international stardom in last year's Winter Olympics in Beijing where she won halfpipe and big air gold, as well as slopestyle silver for the host Chinese team.

She rattled off scores of 95 in each of her three passes at night under the lights in WinSport's superpipe.

The 19-year-old was swarmed by fans seeking photos and autographs at the bottom of the pipe following her victory.

WATCH | Eileen Gu takes home gold in World Cup season debut: 

China's Gu claims World Cup freestyle skiing halfpipe gold in Calgary

17 days ago
Duration 1:32
Eileen Gu of China scored 95 points on her second run at the world cup freestyle halfpipe event in Calgary capturing the gold medal.

"It's been 11 and a half months since I've competed and coming out of the Olympics, obviously it's difficult to follow that up pressure wise, but I think it's been so much fun," Gu said.

"I've been rediscovering all this love that I have for the sport. I love it more now than ever.

"Also, juggling skiing with my first year of college is a brand new challenge this year. I'm just trying to do what I love and enjoy the whole process, and not put too much pressure on myself."

Rachael Karker of Erin, Ont., was second scoring a third-run 89 on the strength of a cork 1080 she unleashed for the first time this season.

WATCH | Rachael Karker captures silver: 

Canada's Karker captures World Cup freestyle ski halfpipe silver medal

17 days ago
Duration 1:54
Rachael Karker of Guelph, Ont., claimed world cup freestyle halfpipe silver Thursday in Calgary after scoring 89 points on her final run.

"I was happy to improve with each run that I did," said Karker, who was a bronze medallist in Beijing.

"Sometimes if it isn't the cleanest run, it feels really good to put something down that I haven't done in awhile.

Gu didn't compete in December's season-opening World Cup at Copper Mountain, Colo., where Karker was victorious.

So the Canadian remained the women's World Cup halfpipe leader.

Hanna Faulhaber of the U.S. placed third with 77.25 points on a windless evening with the temperature of -5 C.

Hometown skier Amy Fraser finished just off the podium in fourth place (74.75), while  Dillan Glennie of Courtenay, B.C., was seventh with a score of 67.50.

"Tonight the pipe was running really fast and being able to go big and hold my grabs, having some unique axis and style, I think played to my advantage," Gu said.

2018 Olympic champion Cassie Sharpe of Comox, B.C., who was a silver medallist behind Gu in Beijing, is taking time off and not competing in Calgary.

Calgary's Brendan Mackay held the top score of 94.50 after two men's rounds.

But when Finland's Jon Sallinen threw down a 96 in the finale, Mackay upped his difficulty attempting a double cork 1620 that he didn't quite nail.

"My first run went really well, which always takes the pressure off a bit," said Mackay.

"I was playing with the idea of upping the difficulty and then after Jon put down that last run, I realized I needed to up the difficulty.

"I went for it. I think I was close. The trick I went for, I haven't done it in awhile. Last time, I got a bit injured on it, so I've been nervous to do it."

WATCH | Brendan Mackay wins silver in front of home crowd: 

Calgary's Brendan Mackay wins World Cup silver in front of home crowd

17 days ago
Duration 1:52
Brendan Mackay finishes second in the men's freeski halfpipe World Cup event in his hometown of Calgary with a score of 94.50.

Simon d'Artois of Whistler, B.C., took bronze with 93 points, while Calgary's Dylan Marineau finished 10th (56.75).

Mackay, who was also second in Copper Mountain, led the men's World Cup halfpipe standings.

WATCH | Simon d'Artois claims bronze: 

B.C.'s Simon d'Artois captures World Cup freeski halfpipe bronze

17 days ago
Duration 1:35
Simon d'Artois of Whistler, B.C., places third in the men's freeski halfpipe World Cup in Calgary.

Competition from Calgary's "Snow Rodeo" continues Saturday with the third of four World Cups this season.

"Saturday, everyone will be skiing a lot of days in a row, so if I can ski as well as I did tonight and land that run I went for at the end, I'd be really stoked about that," Mackay said.

Watch live coverage on CBCsports.ca, CBC Gem and the CBC Sports app for iOS and Android.

With files from CBC Sports

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