- Freestyle Skiing
14 most memorable moments in Sochi freestyle skiing
The always exciting sport of freestyle skiing grew at the 2014 Winter Olympics with four new events - men's and women's halfpipe and men's and women's slopestyle. The new action added to the thrills of the sport up at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park where the U.S. had a sweep of a podium, Canada doubled-up on it multiple times, several crashes became instant highlights and the pioneer of freeski halfpipe was given a touching tribute. Take a look back on 14 unforgettable moments in freestyle skiing from the 2014 Sochi Games.
Kearney's Final Act
Heading into the Sochi Games, the prognosticators at Infostrada said that defending moguls gold medalist Hannah Kearney - who was retiring afterwards - was a lock to win gold. For the second straight Olympics, it was Hannah Kearney skiing last for gold with a Canadian with the lead, setting up another historical run. On her first landing, however, Kearney wobbled, but recovered and still had one of the fastest times. The judges didn't reward her a score high enough to repeat as champion. Kearney ended her Olympic career with a bronze medal.
Embedded video_content_type: Hannah Kearney slips to bronze in women's moguls final
Sister Act 2
The main storyline of women's moguls was 'who's playing for silver and bronze?' with Hannah Kearney being the heavy favorite to repeat as champion. However, that first night under the lights shined bright on two Dufour-Lapointe sisters from Canada. Justine, 19, and Chloe, 22, knocked off the defending champ, winning gold and silver, respectively. Their older sister, Maxime, finished in 12th place.
Embedded video_content_type: Dufour-Lapointe sisters win gold and silver
Alex the Great
Defending men's moguls champion Alex Bilodeau was, like Kearney, competing in his final Olympics. Bilodeau entered the Winter Olympics as a strong favorite, but his compatriot Mikael Kingsbury was also a contender. The two battled all world cup season and shared the podium five of six times. On Bilodeau's final run, he masterfully executed and landed a double cork 1080 on his second jump securing him the gold. Bilodeau, like he did in Vancouver, celebrated with his older brother, Frederic, who has cerebral palsy. By winning gold, Bilodeau became the first freestyle skier to win two gold medals.
Embedded video_content_type: Alex Bilodeau repeats as moguls champion
Women Bring 'Style' to the Slopes
Dara Howell of Canada predicted that her country would sweep gold in the slopestyle events. The 19-year-old held up her end of the guarantee winning the first-ever gold medal in women's freeski slopestyle. Her teammate Kim Lamarre won bronze, making this the third consecutive freestyle skiing event where Canada had two medals. Devin Logan of the U.S. won silver. Kaya Turski, who many considered to be the favorite, dislocated her shoulder in the qualification round.
Embedded video_content_type: Dara Howell wins first-ever gold in women's freeski slopestyle
Slopestyle's Debut Makes a Crash Landing
With an event like slopestyle, the venue up in Rosa Khutor was aptly named Extreme Park. Throw in poor weather conditions and subpar course conditions and you have a dangerous mix that resulted in several crashes. In the women's slopestyle final, Canada's Yuki Tsubota hit the knuckle on her final jump and wiped out. It was reported she fractured her jaw.
Embedded video_content_type: Worst crash of the Sochi Games?
Red, White and Broom
In what may have been the most stacked field of competitors from all over the world, the debut of men's freeski slopestyle showed the world they belonged in the Olympics. For just the third time in U.S. Winter Olympic history, the U.S. swept the podium. Joss Christensen won gold, Gus Kenworthy won silver and Nick Goepper won bronze. Goepper went into the competition as the heavy gold medal favorite, but left the Games as Sochi's most eligible. He started the hash tag #iwanttodatenick as a way for girls to become his Valentine.
Embedded video_content_type: Three Americans, three medal-winning slopestyle runs
Wearing baggy clothing in freeski competitions is commonplace, but for Swedish slopestyle skier Henrik Harlaut, baggy has a whole new meaning. Competing in this year's debut event, Harlaut, who's mostly known for his dreadlocks and winning big air competitions, wore a size 4XL pants. On each of his runs, Harlaut's pants would fall below his waist, only held up by suspenders. On his final round run, Harlaut wiped out, lost his skis and his pants in the process, falling below his knees. The always smiling Harlaut shrugged it off, waited for his score, and gave a shout out to hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan.
Embedded video_content_type: Swedish freestyle skier Henrik Harlaut crashes, loses pants
How Do You Say Sweep in Belarus?
In her fifth Winter Olympics, Alla Tsuper finally landed on the podium, winning gold. China's Xu Mengtao took home the silver and 2010 gold medalist, Lydia Lassila from Australia, won bronze. American Emily Cook finished eighth in her third and final Olympics. Tsuper, 34, became the oldest female freestyle skier to win gold.
Embedded video_content_type: Alla Tsuper wins gold in women's aerials
....and Anton Kushnir continued Belarus' dominance in aerials. This was the second consecutive Olympics Belarus won men's gold, and their fifth overall aerials medal, more than any other country. Australia's David Morris won silver. China entered the Games as heavy favorites to sweep both podiums, however went home with only two - Jia Zongyang won men's bronze and Xu Mengtao won women's silver.
Embedded video_content_type: Anton Kushnir wins gold in men's aerials
'Wise' Beyond His Years
In a sport filled with carefree freeskiers who travel the globe on the endless search for winter, it was the 23-year-old, married-with-a-two-year-old-daughter, David Wise who rose above those 22-foot-walls higher than anyone on a snowy night up in Rosa Khutor. Wise brought, executed and landed multiple double cork 1260s to secure gold. The highly anticipated match-up between Wise and fellow American Torin Yater-Wallace didn't pan out as the 18-year-old Yater-Wallace, who had been recovering from broken ribs and a collapsed lung, did not advance to the final round, falling on both of his runs. Wise shared the podium with Mike Riddle from Canada and Kevin Rolland from France, who won silver and bronze, respectively.
Embedded video_content_type: Move-by-move breakdown of David Wise's gold medal performance
'Mad'-enning World of Women's Halfpipe
Entering the Sochi Olympics, American Maddie Bowman was the heavy favorite. At only 20 years old, Bowman won back-to-back X Games, the 2013 Dew Tour in Breckenridge and also the selection event at Copper Mountain. She lived up to the hype, pressure and anticipation and won gold in the inaugural women's freeski halfpipe event. What was a surprise was who shared the podium with Bowman. Virginie Faivre from Switzerland, Rosalind Groenewoud and Keltie Hansen of Canada reached the podium at the test event in 2013, however they could not replicate those results in 2014. Marie Martinod from France won silver and Ayana Onozuka from Japan won bronze. Martinod, 29, retired in 2006 to care for her daughter, but came back to the sport by the request of Sarah Burke. Onozuka did not take up the sport until 2011 when freeski halfpipe was added to the Olympic program.
Embedded video_content_type: Maddie Bowman wins inaugural freeski halfpipe
Pipe Dream Comes True
Freeski halfpipe became a part of the Olympic program in 2011 mainly due to the hard work and dedication of Sarah Burke. Unfortunately for the Canadian, she didn't get to see her sport make its debut in Sochi. Burke died in January 2012, nine days after suffering an injury in a training run. Since her passing, women and men credit Burke for advancing their sport, always paying tribute to Burke in the form of stickers, forming a heart and looking up to the sky on the podium. The IOC banned commemorative stickers and armbands, however at the conclusion of women's halfpipe, the halfpipe sweepers came down in a heart formation, to pay tribute to the late Burke.
Embedded video_content_type: Sarah Burke, driving force behind ski halfpipe, taken too soon
French Finish 'Un, Deux, Trois' in men's ski cross
Jean Frederic Chapuis, Arnaud Bovolenta and Jonathan Midol all skied calmly through the chaos to take freestyle ski cross gold, silver and bronze and lead France to their first Winter Olympics podium sweep. It was the second 1-2-3 in freestyle skiing at the Extreme Park after the Americans swept the slopestyle event, and gave France a total of 14 medals in Sochi, their best tally at a Winter Games.
Embedded video_content_type: A French sweep in men's ski cross
Three Men. Three Crashes. One Amazing Photo Finish.
That's exactly what happened in one of the quarterfinal heats of the men's ski cross, continuing the trend of spectacular unpredictability in this made-for-TV sport and further validating the comparison to speed skating on snow.
Embedded video_content_type: Three-way crash in men's ski cross photo finish
Canada Continues Ski Cross Dominance
When ski cross made its debut in Vancouver, Canada's Ashleigh McIvor won the first women's gold medal. Whistler's own Marielle Thompson was watching from her couch and four years later went out and continued Canada's winning streak. Thompson, the number one ranked women's ski cross racer, won gold, while fellow Canadian Kelsey Serwa took home silver. This was the fourth time Canada won two medals in a freestyle skiing event.
Embedded video_content_type: Canada snags gold, silver in ski cross