Canada's Elena Gaskell opens World Cup season with big air gold

Canada opened up the 2018-19 World Cup season with a strong showing in the ski big air final at the Audi quattro Winter Games in Cardrona, New Zealand on Thursday.

Fellow Canuck Evan McEachran takes silver in men's event

Elena Gaskell, centre, took home gold in the women's ski big air final in New Zealand on Thursday. (@FISfreestyle/Twitter)

Canada opened up the 2018-19 World Cup season with a strong showing in the ski big air final at the Audi quattro Winter Games in Cardrona, New Zealand on Thursday.

In the women's competition, Elena Gaskell of Vernon, B.C., won gold as she dominated the field with a two-run score of 170.40, finishing more than 20 points ahead of American Caroline Claire (147.80), who claimed silver.

Gaskell's impressive performance included a switch dub 12 — the biggest trick landed by a female competitor to date. 

"It's such a good jump, it gives you a lot of time to spin and I had a feeling that I could put that jump down like I had in training and it worked," Gaskell said. "I am pretty happy with my result. It was a big jump and I struggled with it all week. I chose to compete with two tricks that I knew I could land and was comfortable with." 

Yuki Tsubota of Vancouver, B.C., earned bronze (146.00) while Olympic gold medallist Dara Howell of Huntsville, Ont., finished fifth and did not complete her final two runs.

On the men's side, Evan McEachran of Oakville, Ont., settled for silver (180.40) as he was just edged out by Switzerland's Andri Ragettli for gold (182.00). Rounding out the podium was New Zealand's Finn Balous who scored 180.20.

"I am extremely happy with the second place. I am usually not much of a big air skier," McEachran says. "I was in last place before I did my last run since I messed up my first jump. I had to make sure that I landed my next two. I am glad I made it happen." 

Canada's Alex Beaulieu-Marchand, who won bronze in men's ski slopestyle in Pyeongchang, was sixth (174.00) while teammates Teal Harle and Noah Morrison finished eighth and ninth respectively.


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