Freestyle Skiing

Kate Pettersen - Tuesday Feb. 25, 2014 08:57 ET

Canada emerges as freestyle skiing power

A look back at freestyle's most memorable Olympic moments

  • Men's parallel slalom: (L-R) Benjamin Karl of Austria, Vic Wild of Russia and Zan Kosir of Slovenia.
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    Men's parallel slalom: (L-R) Benjamin Karl of Austria, Vic Wild of Russia and Zan Kosir of Slovenia. (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty)

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  • Men's parallel giant slalom: (L-R) Nevin Galmarini of Switzerland, Vic Wild of Russia and Zan Kosir of Slovenia.
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    Men's parallel giant slalom: (L-R) Nevin Galmarini of Switzerland, Vic Wild of Russia and Zan Kosir of Slovenia. (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty)

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  • Men's snowboard halfpipe: (L-R) Ayumu Hirano of Japan, Iouri Podladtchikov of Switzerland Taku Hiraoka of Japan.
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    Men's snowboard halfpipe: (L-R) Ayumu Hirano of Japan, Iouri Podladtchikov of Switzerland Taku Hiraoka of Japan. (Paul Gilham/Getty)

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  • Men's snowboard slopestyle: (L-R) Staale Sandbech of Norway, Sage Kotsenburg of the United States Mark McMorris of Canada.
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    Men's snowboard slopestyle: (L-R) Staale Sandbech of Norway, Sage Kotsenburg of the United States Mark McMorris of Canada. (Quinn Rooney/Getty)

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  • Men's snowboard cross: (L-R) US' Alex Deibold, France's Pierre Vaultier, and Russia's Nikolay Olyunin.
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    Men's snowboard cross: (L-R) US' Alex Deibold, France's Pierre Vaultier, and Russia's Nikolay Olyunin. (Antonin Thuillier/AFP/Getty)

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  • Women's snowboard parallel slalom: (L-R) Germany's Anke Karstens, Austria's Julia Dujmovits and Germany's Amelie Kober.
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    Women's snowboard parallel giant slalom: (L-R) Germany's Anke Karstens, Austria's Julia Dujmovits and Germany's Amelie Kober. (Peter Parks/AFP/Getty)

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  • Women's snowboard parallel giant slalom: (L-R) Tomoka Takeuchi of Japan, Patrizia Kummer of Switzerland and Alena Zavarzina of Russia.
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    Women's snowboard parallel giant slalom: (L-R) Tomoka Takeuchi of Japan, Patrizia Kummer of Switzerland and Alena Zavarzina of Russia. (Adam Pretty/Getty)

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  • Women's snowboard halfpipe: (R-L) Australia's Torah Bright, USA's Kaitlyn Farrington, and USA's Kelly Clark.
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    Women's snowboard halfpipe: (R-L) Australia's Torah Bright, USA's Kaitlyn Farrington, and USA's Kelly Clark. (Antonin Thuillier/AFP/Getty)

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  • Women's snowboard slopestyle: (L-R) Finland's Enni Rukajarvi, USA's Jamie Anderson and Great Britain's Jenny Jones.
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    Women's snowboard slopestyle: (L-R) Finland's Enni Rukajarvi, USA's Jamie Anderson and Great Britain's Jenny Jones. (Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty)

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  • Women's snowboard cross: (R-L) Canada's Dominique Maltais, Czech Republic's Eva Samkova and France's Chloe Trespeuch.
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    Women's snowboard cross: (R-L) Canada's Dominique Maltais, Czech Republic's Eva Samkova and France's Chloe Trespeuch. (Antonin Thuillier/AFP/Getty)

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  • Men's parallel slalom: (L-R) Benjamin Karl of Austria, Vic Wild of Russia and Zan Kosir of Slovenia.
  • Men's parallel giant slalom: (L-R) Nevin Galmarini of Switzerland, Vic Wild of Russia and Zan Kosir of Slovenia.
  • Men's snowboard halfpipe: (L-R) Ayumu Hirano of Japan, Iouri Podladtchikov of Switzerland Taku Hiraoka of Japan.
  • Men's snowboard slopestyle: (L-R) Staale Sandbech of Norway, Sage Kotsenburg of the United States Mark McMorris of Canada.
  • Men's snowboard cross: (L-R) US' Alex Deibold, France's Pierre Vaultier, and Russia's Nikolay Olyunin.
  • Women's snowboard parallel slalom: (L-R) Germany's Anke Karstens, Austria's Julia Dujmovits and Germany's Amelie Kober.
  • Women's snowboard parallel giant slalom: (L-R) Tomoka Takeuchi of Japan, Patrizia Kummer of Switzerland and Alena Zavarzina of Russia.
  • Women's snowboard halfpipe: (R-L) Australia's Torah Bright, USA's Kaitlyn Farrington, and USA's Kelly Clark.
  • Women's snowboard slopestyle: (L-R) Finland's Enni Rukajarvi, USA's Jamie Anderson and Great Britain's Jenny Jones.
  • Women's snowboard cross: (R-L) Canada's Dominique Maltais, Czech Republic's Eva Samkova and France's Chloe Trespeuch.

When the 2014 Olympic Winter Games came to a close, Canada finished with 25 medals. Of the 25, nine were won in freestyle ski events.

In Sochi, viewers were privy to some “firsts” after the International Olympic Committee's decision to introduce a raft of new events to modernise the programme and appeal to a younger demographic. The end result a great success, especially for the Canadian contingent.

Getting extreme in Sochi

Dara Howell became one of Canada’s golden girls winning the first ever Olympic ski slopestyle event. Howell, 19, of Huntsville, Ont., posted a score of 94.2 to take a commanding lead after the first of two final runs, and it held up. Joining Howell on the podium was 25-year-old Kim Lamarre of Quebec City who won bronze.

Top medal contender and reigning world champion Kaya Turski, who returned from ACL surgery to compete in Sochi, had a disappointing day crashing out in the final. Turski battled illness since she arrived in Sochi and dislocated her shoulder on the first of two final runs.

In ski halfpipe, Mike Riddle of Sherwood Park, Alta., won silver in the men’s event where three of four Canadians made the final. American David Wise came into the event as the heavy gold medal favourite and executed near flawless runs to top the podium while Kevin Rolland of France won bronze.

In the women’s event, it was a disappointing day for top Canadian hopeful Rosalind Groenewoud who fell on her first run and ended the day in seventh after a bad second run. Keltie Hansen finished 13th and failed to advance to the 12-skier final round.

Keeping Olympic gold on home soil

Ski cross star Marielle Thompson won the gold medal and Kelsey Serwa took the silver with a 1-2 Canadian finish in the women’s final. This event marked the third 1-2 finish for Canada in freestyle skiing at the Sochi Olympics.

Ahead of the race the Canadian team said they would ski for their former teammate Nik Zoricic, who died from head injuries suffered in a crash during a World Cup ski cross race in Switzerland in March 2012. After the race, Serwa credited Zoricic for his help in helping her reach the Olympic podium and dedicated the race to him.

In the men’s ski cross final, it was another disappointing Games for Canadians. Brady Leman of Calgary crashed while attempting a pass in the four-man final to finish just off the podium. It brought back memories of Vancouver when Canadian Chris Del Bosco also missed the podium in fourth place.

France completed their first ever medal sweep at the Winter Olympics, taking all three men's ski cross medals. The Canadians protested the results, claiming the French skiers were wearing suits that were too aerodynamic, but there were no disqualifications.

In aerials, Travis Gerrits executed a solid full double full full quad-twisting triple and was given a score of 111.95 on his final jump. He was on the bubble to move on, and wound up seventh. Earlier in the day, Gerrits had a highlight-reel wipeout, but he walked away without any injuries.

Mogul Kings and Queens

In moguls, Canada dominated the podium in both the men’s and women’s event with Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe winning gold and silver while reigning Olympic champion Alex Bilodeau defended his title winning gold and Mikael Kingsbury won silver.

Bilodeau, the champion four years ago in Vancouver, becomes the first man to ever successfully defend the men's Olympic moguls crown.

New success

IOC President Thomas Bach said the overwhelming positive response to the new events showed the Olympic movement was heading in the right direction.

"We have to adapt to modern times," he told Reuters.

"We did so in the Winter Games in the past with snowboard and moguls and we have to keep going in this direction and I hope that in the Summer Games we can have progress."

The successful introduction of snowboarding and freestyle skiing in the 1990s persuaded the IOC to fast-track the addition of 12 new events for Sochi.

Eight of those were in the extreme sports. These attracted the coolest and hippest competitors at the Olympics, as much for their jaw-dropping tricks as their cavalier approach to life.

​With files from Reuters

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