Freestyle Skiing

Kate Pettersen - Monday Feb. 17, 2014 19:12 ET

Mike Riddle leads talented team into ski halfpipe Olympic debut

Dorey, Bowman, Margetts also medal contenders

Mike Riddle warms up on the halfpipe in Breckenridge, Colo.
Canada's Mike Riddle warms up ahead of the men's freeskiing halfpipe final at the U.S. Snowboarding and Freeskiing Grand Prix Breckenridge on January 12 in Breckenridge, Colo. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

The story of new beginnings continues on Tuesday in Sochi when men’s ski halfpipe makes its Olympic debut. For Canada, it’s a chance to build on an already impressive showing in freestyle skiing at the Games with the maximum four athletes qualifying to compete.

Mike Riddle, of Sherwood Park, Alta., won the overall World Cup title in 2013 and finished third overall in the standings this past season. Those final results have him feeling confident ahead of his first career Olympic appearance

“I was very inconsistent for a bunch of years and then last year I kind of figured it out,” he said. "I would always get way too stressed out about things and it wouldn’t go my way. I’m just going to treat it like any other day.”

In January, Riddle finished just off the podium, placing fourth at the Winter X Games in Aspen, Colo., while working on the run he hopes to land in Sochi.

“I didn’t get it perfect so I know when I do everything great I’ll do better than fourth,” he said. “It’s a good step for me moving forward to the Olympics. The level of skiing is through the roof right now. Everyone is skiing so well.”

More podium potential

Justin Dorey of Whistler, B.C., returned from injury this season to win the overall World Cup title and punch his ticket to Sochi. The 25-year-old is thrilled to be a part of history in one of the Olympics new events.

"It's insane,” he said. “We have never had an opportunity like this before. Just being here, let alone podiuming, is going to be a very cool experience."

Dorey has had a solid season, winning the only World Cup event on home soil in January at Canadian Olympic Park in Calgary. A few weeks later, he attempted one of his new tricks at X Games and crashed on all of his runs. Despite the disappointing performance, Dorey remains positive with a carefree approach to his performance at the Games.

"I'd like to think that if I stomp the run of my life at the perfect time that I could potentially be on top,” he said. “I'm just going to go out there, do my thing and let the judges do what they're going to do."

Sochi "summer-like" conditions

When athletes drop into the halfpipe on Tuesday, snow conditions could be a factor. Warm temperatures have caused snow to melt giving course builders and crew a bit of a hard time.

“It's super soft and like summer skiing, so it's difficult for (course builders) to cut (the halfpipe)," said Dorey.

"They've been doing a really good job, though, and it's really fun to ski a soft pipe. We're used to skiing icy pipes at this time of year, so this is a nice treat for us."

Canada’s Noah Bowman, 21, of Calgary, Alta., and Matt Margetts, 25, of Penticton, B.C.,are also contenders for a shot at the podium. The pair finished the season sixth and tenth on the World Cup circuit respectively and have been skiing well leading up to Sochi.

"We're going to be competing at night so it's going to be fast,” said Margetts. “It's going to be hard and it's going to be awesome."

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