Canada's Cassie Sharpe earns ski halfpipe gold; USA's Sigourney gets bronze
After dominating both rounds of competition in women's freeski halfpipe, Canadian freeskier Cassie Sharpe has won her first Olympic gold medal.
Sharpe's first run of the final — which included cork 900s in both directions — didn't even contain her biggest trick, but it still put her atop the leaderboard with a 94.4.
On her second run, Sharpe stepped it up with back-to-back 900s at the top of the halfpipe and a cork 1080 spun to her left on her last hit. Those progressive tricks, combined with Sharpe's great amplitude, upped her score to a 95.8.
No one was able to match that, and by the time she dropped in for her third and final run, Sharpe had already secured the title of Olympic champion. She described the scene right before she took her victory lap:
"My coach Trennon [Paynter] hugged me at the top and it was just the biggest hug, and I said, 'I can't hug you because I'm going to cry' and he said, 'I'm going to cry on national television.'"
Sharpe, 25, has become a dominant force within the freeskiing scene within the last two years or so. Her ability to blend progressive tricks with big amplitude and smooth execution turned her into the odds-on favorite for halfpipe gold in her Olympic debut.
"It hasn't really sunk in yet, but it's just an incredible feeling," Sharpe said. "Just putting all my hard work into this, it's just everything wrapped up into one."
The Canadian wasn't the only skier landing 1080s though. France's Marie Martinod landed a left 1080 on her second run to help her score a 92.6. That run gave Martinod her second straight Olympic silver medal in what will likely be one of the final contests of her career.
"It means I made a good decision to come back, it means I've been working hard and I could do it at the right times," Martinod said of winning her second Olympic medal. "It means I'm leaving this industry with a great message to all the girls: that you can push hard, you can push for a long time, and if you take care of yourself you can do it until you're 33 at least. And it means — and this is most important — that you can be a woman, you can have kids and you can do it, feel good about it, and come back [to the sport]."
At 33, Martinod was the oldest skier in the field in PyeongChang. She previously retired for five years (from 2006-2011) to start a family before reemerging (partly at the insistence of the late freeski pioneer Sarah Burke) to make a run at the 2014 Olympics. Martinod continued competing through the 2018 Games but plans to head back into retirement after PyeongChang.
"I've given a lot to this sport," she said. "It gave a lot back and now it's time to move on and do other stuff and I can't wait to do other stuff."
U.S. skier Brita Sigourney demonstrated impressive amplitude and consistency throughout the contest and landed three solid runs. Her third run scored a 91.6 and moved her into third place, which secured a bronze medal for her but also bumped teammate Annalisa Drew off the podium.
Just a few minutes earlier, Drew had put herself into medal contention with an impressive run that included a 1080. In a moment of camaraderie, she and Sigourney shared a hug after Sigourney landed the run that knocked her down to fourth place.
"I said [to Drew] I'm sorry and I love her," Sigourney said. "It's kind of an uncomfortable spot, but I think, at the end of the day, just having Anna's support and her telling me she loves me and is proud of me, that takes everything away and I'm just happy to share it with her."
"I feel really good, I'm super stoked," Drew said. "This is the best run that I've put down all season so I couldn't be happier, I don't care about the result."
Defending champion Maddie Bowman was unable to land a run in the final and placed 11th. She was attempting back-to-back 900s at the end of her runs, but washed out on the landing of the second 900 on all three attempts.
"I'm really glad I went for it," Bowman said. "I wanted to do the best run of my life, or crash. I'm not here to throw safety runs. I went for it."
Videos of the top runs can be found further below.
Gold: Cassie Sharpe (CAN), 95.8
Silver: Marie Martinod (FRA), 92.6
Bronze: Brita Sigourney (USA), 91.6
4. Annalisa Drew (USA), 90.8
5. Ayana Onozuka (JPN), 82.2
6. Valeriya Demidova (OAR), 80.6
7. Rowan Cheshire (GBR), 75.4
8. Sabrina Cakmakli (GER), 74.2
9. Zhang Kexin (CHN), 73.0
10. Rosalind Groenewoud (CAN), 70.6
11. Maddie Bowman (USA), 27.0
12. Anais Caradeux (FRA), DNS