Bring on Pyeongchang

Cassie Sharpe is ready for Pyeongchang 2018.

The Comox-raised freestyle skier is coming off her third gold medal win of the season at a recent World Cup event in Snowmass, Colo. Her score of 93.20 points included a right-cork 900, a left-cork 700 and a cork 1080. The latter — a three-rotation spin while flipping upside down in mid-air — has been waiting in the wings for some time.

“It was good to put that run together, and land it the way that I did,” said Sharpe, 25, who lives in North Vancouver. “I figured I haven’t done the Switch Cork Seven in a long time. I talked with my coach, and he said that if, and when, I landed it that I was allowed to unleash the Cork 10.”

And unleash it she did.

“Really, really thankful that I did.”

Prior to Snowmass, Sharpe had won a World Cup race in New Zealand in September and a Dew Tour event last month in Breckenridge, Colo.

In 2016, Sharpe won a gold medal at the X Games in Norway. The year before, she won gold at the Tignes FIS World Cup, and silver at the FIS World Championship.

She has the distinction of being the first woman to use a Switch Cork Seven in competition. This trick involves taking off backwards, going upside down and rotating 700 degrees.

“And I put that in my contest run last year at the end of the season in France. That was the first time I’d ever done it.”

Though Canada’s freestyle team has yet to be announced, Sharpe has earned enough points on the World Cup circuit to secure a spot in her first Olympics. Over the last few seasons, she’s become well acquainted with her halfpipe competitors who will be vying for Olympic gold. Pretty much the entire Olympic field appeared at the last competition. About four of her main competitors are American. One is Brita Sigourney, who was second behind Sharpe in Snowmass. There’s also Japan’s Ayana Onozuka, who was third in Snowmass, and French skier Marie Martinod.

“We’re all pretty friendly,” Sharpe said. “As much as we’re competing against each other, there’s a lot of camaraderie.”

She feels things are on track heading into the Pyeongchang Games, Feb. 9-25. After a bit of “fine tuning” in Calgary, Sharpe will compete at the X Games in Aspen, Colo., then return to Calgary for a week of training before heading to Korea.

“I feel strong, I feel mentally strong,” she said. “All my tricks are pretty dialled. Just all the little fine tunings.”

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