(R - L) Evan McEachran (CAN), Øystein Bråten (NOR), Colby Stevenson (USA) Photo: Freestyle Canada Coaching Staff

Freestyle Canada’s slopestyle team was at Stubai Zoo Snow Park in Austria over the weekend for the second event of the 2017-2018 FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup. When the qualifying rounds ended on Friday for the mens’ team and on Saturday for the ladies’, 16 men and 8 women had earned spots in the finals on Sunday.

For the men’s team, Evan McEachran distinguished himself from start to finish with an almost perfect score in the qualifying round that put him in second place and confirmed his spot in the finals. In spite of clement weather, the Oakville, Ontario athlete tackled the final as he had done the previous day – with a confidence that brought him to the second step on the podium and his first career World Cup medal. “It’s been a pretty amazing weekend, to say the least. I felt really good skiing in practice then in qualifiers I managed to land my dream run on this course, so that felt awesome. Then my second run in qualifiers I got to step it up a little bit and put myself in a better position going into finals.  Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t amazing today so I didn’t have great training and in my first run I didn’t have speed, so I decided to improvise my second run and somehow managed to put it all together and end up in second!” said a jubilant McEachran.

“It’s a huge weight off of my shoulders, especially being an Olympic qualifying year it’s really stressful to get a podium. This is my first podium in four years so it feels insane and I am just excited to go ski for myself. I think I’ll be able to put down much better runs in the coming events,” concluded the Canadian skier.

The only other Canadian athlete in the finals, Alex Bellemare, finished eighth in the general rankings.

Quebec skier Kim Lamarre admitted she was somewhat disappointed with her tenth-place showing, but said she came away with the good elements she will capitalize on in the next competition. “It’s not what I wanted, but it’s still a good result for my Olympic qualification. I’m in a better position than I was before the Stubai event,” she said. “I made a few mistakes in my runs; without those I would have made the final lineup. But I’m okay with the result and will build on it, because there were lots of positive elements this week.”

With a sore knee, Alex Beaulieu-Marchand decided it would be prudent to skip the World Cup in Stubai and take a few days off before the Dew Tour. “I hurt my knee last summer in New Zealand, but just two weeks before the World Cup I was still trying to ski at 100%. Then I realized that my knee pain was keeping me from skiing my best. I thought it would be a good idea to rest so that I can fully recover in time for the next competition,” said the Quebec athlete. A second skier, Sochi gold medalist Dara Howell, also withdrew from this first event of the season after a minor injury sustained during training in Stubai.

Five NextGen athletes in Stubai
The Canadian contingent arrived in Stubai with five athletes from its NextGen group: Noah Morrison, Philippe Langevin, Patrick Dew, Max Moffatt and Elena Gaskell. This was just the third World Cup start for Gaskell, 16, who came close to making the final but finished ninth after two runs in the qualifying round. “Though I would have liked to make the finals, I was happy to land my runs and finish in the top 10,” said Gaskell, who set had set her sights on improving her ranking with each competition and has thus far accomplished that. “I’m getting to know the World Cup circuit and starting to feel more at ease on the courses, which are more difficult than those on the Nor-Am circuit. I am also watching the other athletes and learning what I need to do to be competitive.”

Canadian athlete results:

Men: Evan McEachran (2), Alex Bellemare (8), Teal Harle (21), Patrick Dew (29), Noah Morrison (30), Max Moffatt (33), Philippe Langevin (37)

Ladies: Elena Gaskell (9), Kim Lamarre (10), Yuki Tsubota (15), Anouk Purnelle-Faniel (19)

Upcoming events (December)

  • FIS World Cup – December 6-8 – Copper Mountain – Halfpipe
  • FIS World Cup – December 9 – Ruka – Moguls
  • Dew Tour – December 14-17 – Breckenridge – Slopestyle
  • FIS World Cup – December 16-17 – Beijing – Aerials
  • FIS World Cup – December 21-22 – Thaiwoo – Moguls
  • FIS World Cup – December 23 – Font Romeu – Slopestyle