Canada's Yuki Tsubota finishes 6th in women's ski slopestyle

Reigning champ Canadian Dara Howell fails to advance past qualifying

Canada's Yuki Tsubota finishes 6th in women's ski slopestyle
Canada's Yuki Tsubota flies through the air during her sixth-place women's ski slopestyle run at the Olympics in Pyeongchang on Saturday. © David Ramos/Getty Images

CBC Sports

Switzerland won gold and silver in women's ski slopestyle at the Olympics in Pyeongchang on Saturday.

Sarah Hoefflin and Mathilde Gremaud scored the top two runs in the final with scores of 91.20 and 88, respectively.

Hoefflin is a latecomer to freestyle skiing. She didn't get serious about the sport until her early 20s after she failed to get into medical school.

Great Britain's Isabel Atkin took home bronze at 84.60.

Hoefflin remembers crashing hard the first time she ever tried to navigate a slopestyle course "because I didn't know what I was doing." She only entered her first competition at the urging of classmates because the winner received a new set of skis and she, well, she'd never had new skis before.

That's hardly a problem anymore.

Hoefflin has practically sprinted toward the upper echelons of her sport, winning gold in the Big Air competition at X Games last month. Still, she didn't exactly head to the starting gate with a ton of confidence. Training didn't go well.

"I just wasn't really landing anything," she said. "It happens sometimes when you're not really feeling yourself."

Hoefflin was born in Geneva before her family moved to Kingsbury, England, about two hours north of London. She was starting to get the feel for freestyle when someone approached her and asked if she wanted to compete for her birth country. It changed everything.

"I went to some training camps with some Swiss team members and it just started from there," she said. "They looked after me so well and they managed to turn me into the athlete I am today."

Despite qualifying in first place with the top score of the day (91.40), Sweden's Emma Dahlstrom ended the final in a disappointing 11th.

The only Canadian to advance to the final was Whistler, B.C.'s Yuki Tsubota. She put down a strong first run, scoring 74.40 and ranking her third after the initial heat.

But Tsubota crashed on her second run and couldn't take advantage of her third, eventually falling out of medal contention.

"I'm super happy, qualifying was the big obstacle today," said Tsubota. "Everyone has stepped up their game, it's a lot tougher to make it. All the girls here had a chance to win this contest, it was anyone's game. A lot of good girls didn't even make it to finals today."

Canada's Dara Howell, the reigning Olympic champion, fell on the final jump of her second run after a disappointing first and finished 21st overall.

The 23-year-old Huntsville, Ont., native took two years off the sport following her Sochi gold medal, as well as dealing with some injury concerns in between the two Winter Games.

"It is not the result that I wanted but it is something I am really grateful for," said Howell, adding that the speed on the course had surprised her.

"I feel like as me, as Dara, I have had a lot of success in my life so far. I have had hard times too but they make me who I am and that is something I am really grateful for.

The bronze medallist from Sochi, Quebec City's Kim Lamarre, also failed to advance to the final.

"I skied my heart out today, which I'm really proud of," said Lamarre. "It was a big bummer to land everything clean up until the last jump in my first run. I thought my rail sections were original and creative; it was just my jumps that didn't go well. I just came up a little short."

With files from Reuters, The Associated Press