Photo Credit: Jordan Klassen
Aspen, Colorado – Canada will have representation in every freestyle skiing event at the 2016 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado this week.
The most anticipated event of the season for pipe and slopestyle athletes, the annual Winter X Games will have a total of seven Canadian Freestyle Ski Team members taking part between January 28-31.
Among them will be X Games veteran and Olympic silver medallist Mike Riddle (Sherwood Park, AB). Riddle will be making his 10th appearances at the event and has been diligently preparing new runs for the competition.
“I’m feeling really good and well rested going into the event,” said Riddle. “I am confident with where my skiing is at and I have been working on a lot of new tricks that I look forward to using at the X Games. This will be my tenth appearance there. I still remember my first invite and how excited I was to receive it. It’s still very special to me and I feel lucky to be a part of it. I have been pushing myself in training for the last few months and I hope to do something special in Aspen.”
The eight-woman ski superpipe field will include two Canadians, among them wil be Roz Groenwoud (Calgary, AB) who holds seven medals from various X Games events. In 2012, Groenewoud won gold in Aspen and Tignes. She will be joined by X Games rookie, Cassie Sharpe (Comox, BC) who has taken the tour by storm over the last year and finished second at Dew Tour in December.
“It’s really exciting and an amazing feeling knowing that I will be going to my first X Games,” said Sharpe. “To know that I am one of the eight girls invited is special. I’ve never been a part of an event this big. It’s such a massive production. Before halfpipe became a part of the Olympic Games, the X Games was the event everyone in our sport aimed for. It was always a dream and now it has become reality. I’m really going to go and soak in the whole experience.”
Men’s ski slopestyle will feature 2015 X Games bronze medallist Alex Bellemare (Saint-Boniface, QC) making his third appearance and Evan McEachran (Oakville, ON) making his second appearance. They will be joined on the women’s side by Kaya Turski (Montreal, QC) hoping to make her return to competition after a setback before the Dew Tour in December. Turski holds four X Games gold medals from Aspen and four from Tignes – more than any other competitor in the disciplines history.
Olympic gold medallist Dara Howell (Huntsville, ON) also joins the field and will be looking to add to her three X Games bronze medals, including the one she won last year.
“Last year was a tough year for me,” said Howell. “I was just physically exhausted with so much on my plate and I didn’t really know how to handle it. I just needed to kind of take a step back and do my own thing. So to get bronze at the X Games was like winning gold for me and my family. I t was a tough thing to do and I wasn’t skiing that much. I was really happy with a podium finish.”
Vincent Gagner will also be representing Canada in the Ski Big Air competition.
There will be some notable absences this week. Alex Beaulieu-Marchand (Quebec City, QC) and Justin Dorey (Vernon, BC) were both originally invited, but will be missing the competition due to injury. The same goes for defending X Games superpipe champion Simon d’Artois (Whistler, BC).
“I sustained a knee injury last spring at the Jon Olsson Invitational. I will not be competing in the X Games because I am not ready to perform at an X Games level,” said d’Artois. “I plan to start training at an X Games level towards the end of the season, but want to give myself the time to recover 100%.
“I am very disappointed that I will no be able to compete at the X Games as I was really looking forward to returning this season to defend my gold medal. I will be attending the event to watch and spend time with friends that will be competing. My sights are set for the X Games in 2017.”
The X Games will not feature any qualifiers. Each event will have one final and a best of three run format. A total of 12 men will compete in each of the ski superpipe and slopestyle competitions. The women’s field will only feature eight in each event. A full schedule can be found here.