The Comox Valley had three ahtletes competing at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea — and one of them came home with a gold medal.
Cassie Sharpe of Comox laid down the top two runs of the entire competition to win the ladies’ ski halfpipe competition. The freestyle skier who grew up on the slopes of Mount Washington had qualified in the top spot by posting 93 and 93.4 — the top two scores in qualifying. In the finals, she posted a 94.4 on her first run and 95.8 on her second. In the halfpipe, the top single run posted of three attempts is all that counts. Second-place Marie Martinod of France had a best score of 92.6.
Not surprisingly, Sharpe’s win garnered a flood of reaction on social media, including a congratulatory note from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Throughout the Comox Valley, many watched her compete at private viewing parties, or at bars and restaurants.
Also competing was Courtenay-raised Spencer O’Brien, who finished ninth in women’s big air snowboarding. The event made its Olympic debut in Pyeongchang. Big Air was the second event of the Games for the 30-year-old snowboarder, who was born in Alert Bay. O’Brien placed 22nd in the controversial slopestyle competition that was marred by gusting winds. An advocate for the inclusion of women’s snowboarding in the Olympics, O’Brien had a 12th-place result in slopestyle at the 2014 Sochi Games.
Comox-raised Carle Brenneman placed 14th overall in snowboard cross. She needed a top-12 finish in the opening round of qualifying to advance directly to the quarter-finals. Instead, Brenneman had to go through a second qualifying round, where she posted a time of 1:20.89.
Campbell River also had an Olympian competing in South Korea. Teal Harle placed fifth in men’s slopestyle skiing, one of three Canadians who finished in the top-six of the event. A mistake on the rail in the first run in the final left Harle in ninth place. His second run was a good one until the end when he crashed his final landing. The third run was the best of them all. He nailed a score of 90, which put him in fourth place after completing his run, but then other skiers pushed his placement down to fifth.
Like his fellow Olympians from the Comox Valley, Harle learned the ropes at Mount Washington.