Slopestyle skier Evan McEachran's 'dream season' continues with Olympic debut

Oakville, Ont., native hoping 'to put on a good show' in Saturday's event

Slopestyle skier Evan McEachran's 'dream season' continues with Olympic debut
Canadian Evan McEachran, seen during a training run, will try to approach his Olympic debut like any other contest when he competes in the ski slopestyle event beginning on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET. © Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press

By Paul McGaughey, CBC Sports

Following a breakthrough moment in November, Evan McEachran's dream of making the Olympics started to morph into reality.

The slopestyle skier was finally able to nab his first podium finish — a silver medal in Stubai, Austria — four years into his career on the World Cup circuit. 

At the time, the 20-year-old from Oakville, Ont., felt like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders, which became evident as the season progressed toward Pyeongchang.

"Up until that Stubai event, I had put a lot of pressure on myself to try and land on the podium and it was kind of a big stress point for me to qualify for the Olympics," McEachran says over the phone from South Korea.

"But once I got that out of the way, I could just ski for fun and just cruise around. A lot of the pressure was lifted off of me and I was just enjoying it a lot more and was able to put down my A-1 runs."

Dream come true

Freed from the stress of chasing that elusive first medal, McEachran went on to reach the podium three more times, leaving virtually no doubt of his inclusion on Canada's Olympic freestyle team.

"Since the Stubai event, it's definitely been a dream season and I'm just happy to be here now," he says.

McEachran, who described his adjustment to the 14-hour time change as "super mellow," speaks highly of the slopestyle course at Phoenix Snow Park.

"They stepped up the rails for the first time in a long time, so I think that's a really good step for the future of the sport, to try and progress that section, as well as the jumps because it's been definitely more jump focused over the past few years," said McEachran, adding that it should make the sport even more entertaining to watch. 

Course conditions sparked controversy early on in the Games, with organizers deciding to proceed despite high winds that wreaked havoc on the women's snowboard slopestyle event. McEachran has his fingers crossed that it will be smooth sailing when his event gets underway. 

Fingers crossed

"We had a couple wind gusts where I had to pull out of the jumps, but for the most part it's been extremely nice for us," he says. "Hopefully that holds off and it can stay how it's been in the past two days of training, but for sure it can get gusty up there and definitely came at the wrong time for the women's slopestyle." 

McEachran isn't shying away from his moment on the world stage, but he says the key is to approach it like any other contest.

"Obviously it's easier said than done, but I've been trying to do that as much as I can and just not focus on it being the whole five rings Olympic scene," says McEachran ahead of his debut.

"It's definitely been a lot less overwhelming than I expected. Once we were in the village, we got settled in nice and early and got used to it and now it just feels super normal and not really like anything super special. So I'll just keep rolling with that and ski for fun like I always do and it should be all good."

McEachran will be joined in the ski slopestyle by teammates Teal Harle, Alex Beaulieu-Marchand, and Alex Bellemare, beginning with the qualification round on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET, followed by the finals at 11:15 p.m. ET.