The first Canadian skier to win an Olympic medal in the history of halfpipe freestyle skiing, Albertan Mike Riddle today turns the page on a fruitful career. He was among the first ardent advocates who succeeded in getting ski halfpipe added to the Olympic program and was also the heart and soul of Canada’s halfpipe team in its inaugural season. After 12 seasons on the World Cup circuit, Riddle says the time has come to move on.
“With the new season just around the corner, I thought it time to officially announce that I’m retiring from competition,” said Riddle, 32. “I am extremely grateful for the career I’ve had, and although the decision to move on is not an easy one, I’m happy to have made the choice and excited about whatever comes next! I’ll always be a skier and will enjoy following this season without feeling any of the pressure. See you on the slopes!”
Riddle, who grew up in Sherwood Park, Alberta, is retiring his FIS bib after a career that began at the 2006 World Cup and spanned many professional events in the intervening years. He was declared FIS world champion at the Worlds in 2011, held at Park City Mountain Resort, USA, and took home the silver at the 2017 World Championships in Sierra Nevada, Spain.
“That was the only time in my career that I was able to do a victory lap,” Riddle said of his 2011 Worlds win. “I was thrilled to have had that experience… and having the world champion title forever linked to my name is pretty cool.”
Riddle also took home a Crystal Globe after topping the overall rankings in World Cup ski halfpipe at the end of the 2012-13 season. His career further included four World Cup stage wins and eight podiums in all. He is a veteran of the X Games, in which he competed for the first time in 2006.
“When I got into freestyle skiing at the age of 13, the X Games were thebig event. Being asked to compete in those in 2006 was a dream come true back then, and it’s something I will never forget.”
The highlight of his career, however, was the silver medal win at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia at the first-ever ski halfpipe event to be held at a Winter Olympics.
That historic medal was even more meaningful for Riddle, since he had long advocated for ski halfpipe to be included as an official Olympic event.
“Obviously, that was something hugely important in my life,” Riddle said of his silver victory. “I had worked hard to get halfpipe on the Olympic freestyle skiing program – it all started when I competed in the FIS Worlds in 2005 – and to see all of our hard work culminate in that success was just an incredible feeling. That silver medal win for Canada is the thing I’m most proud of. That was the icing on the cake.”
Riddle competed in his second Olympics, in PyeongChang, last February, as well as the 2017-18 FIS World Cup season, giving him a total of 28 starts on the international circuit. He’ll head into retirement with the world vice-champion title. And clearly, his departure will be felt on the national team.
“It’s been great working with Mike over the last two Olympic cycles,” said Marc McDonnell, coach with the national ski halfpipe team. “As the team veteran, and one who’s had the most success, he has had a major influence on the Canadian halfpipe team’s approach to the sport. We’ll miss his wealth of knowledge, leadership skills and great personality.”
“I’m incredibly thankful for the career I’ve had,” added Riddle. “None of it would have been possible without all the people who helped me along the way. I’d like to thank my parents, first and foremost, for their unlimited support. I also want to thank my coaches, Marc (McDonnell) and Trennon (Paynter), who helped me get as far as I did; all the folks at Freestyle Canada and my sponsors for being the best support crew. And I am also grateful to all of my friends, my teammates, and the skiers I met along the way, who’ve become like family to me. Those are lasting friendships that I will always cherish.”