Cassie Sharpe.

Comox skier Cassie Sharpe wins World Cup gold medal in halfpipe

Island product peaking just in time for Olympics

Cassie Sharpe was tired of waiting to unleash her latest trick in competition.

So with a World Cup victory assured on Friday, the freestyle skier from Comox used her third and final run down the halfpipe in Snowmass, Colo., to test out her cork 1080 — a full three-rotation spin while flipping upside down in mid-air — and she nailed it.

Sharpe scored a whopping 93.20 points on that run, which also included a right-cork 900 and a left-cork 700, for her second straight win and third of the season.

“I’ve kinda kept it under wraps for two or three months now,” Sharpe said of the cork 1080. “I’ve been training it, I’ve been trying it and every contest I’d always tell (my team): ‘I want to do this trick, I want to do it.’ And they kept telling me to hold back on it because my run was winning without it and I don’t need it.

“But I felt right today, I felt like: ‘I’ve already won, I might as well bump my own score and do the trick that I’ve really wanted to do.’”

The 25-year-old Sharpe bested second-place American Brita Sigourney (89.20) by four points. Japan’s Ayana Onozuka was third with 87.

Sharpe also won gold at a World Cup in New Zealand in September and took first place at the Dew Tour in Breckenridge, Colo., last month.

With the Winter Olympics just four weeks away, she feels she’s starting to peak at the right time.

“It’s such a confidence-booster and it really allows me to reign in on my tricks,” said Sharpe, who’s racked up enough points on the World Cup circuit to secure her spot in her first Olympic Games even though Canada’s freestyle team won’t officially be announced for another week.

“I know I can do these tricks but if I can add a grab or make it more technical, give it more style, I have time (to work on that). I’ve got the tricks to win the contest but I’m really excited to be able to put more time into each one of them before the Games.”

Noah Bowman was the top Canadian on the men’s halfpipe with a fourth-place finish. Mike Riddle, the defending Olympic silver medallist from Sherwood Park, Alta., was fifth.

Americans David Wise, Alex Ferreira and Aaron Blunck swept the podium.

Sharpe will skip the next World Cup stop before the Olympics — in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., next weekend — choosing instead to spend the week training in Calgary. She will compete at the X Games in Aspen, Colo., at the end of January before heading to Pyeongchang.

— Melissa Couto, The Canadian Press

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