Roz Groenewoud's Olympic experience didn't go the way she hoped, although the debut of women's halfpipe skiing in the Winter Games still provided a memorable moment for the freestyle ski community.
Expected to be a medal contender since the sport was added to the Olympic program, and coming off a podium finish at the Winter X Games, Groenewoud wasn't able to produce the kind of run she's capable of during the women's final on Thursday, Feb. 20 and settled for seventh place.
"This pipe and me didn't get along that well," the 24-year-old told CBC after American skier Maddie Bowman claimed the gold medal. "I had a lot of falls in training, and that beat my body down and beat my confidence down a bit.
"Just being at the Olympics wasn't my goal. My goal was to ski in a way I was proud of and I didn't do that tonight."
Bowman won with a score of 89.00 on a run that included back-to-back 900s. France's Marie Martinod (85.40) took silver and Japan's Ayana Onozuka (83.20) was the bronze medallist. Groenewoud's second-run score of 74.20 was the one that counted. Keltie Hansen, the other Canadian in the field, finished 13th in qualifying and did not make the 12-woman final.
Groenewoud underwent bilateral knee surgery in December and looked like she had returned to form with a silver medal at the Winter X Games in January. In her first finals run, she went for a 900 on her first hit but fell, leaving it all up to her final run.
On her second attempt, she went back to the big straight air that has traditionally led off her runs, but landed low in the pipe and never seemed to find the amplitude needed to reach the podium.
"When you land perfect, it makes the next trick so much easier; when you land off, everything gets three times more difficult," coach Trennon Paynter told the Toronto Star.
Sarah Burke was on everyone's mind Thursday as the sport she worked so hard to get into the Olympics was finally on full display. After the final concluded, course slippers came down the pipe in the shape of a heart as a tribute to the late freestyle pioneer, with Burke's parents and husband Rory Bushfield in attendance.
Later, Paynter revealed that some of Burke's ashes were spread in the pipe at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park earlier in the week. Burke's longtime coach and close friend told media he had to be "sneaky" about it, and added that some of Burke's ashes have also been placed elsewhere, like near her Ontario home and on the beach in Hawaii.
"She's all over the place, adventuring around the world, as she should be," said Paynter. "I know she's up there, very stoked."
FOUR-MAN SQUAD SURVIVES SCARY CRASH
Canada's chances at a men's bobsleigh medal ended when Justin Kripps and his Canada 3 team overturned their sled on their second run Saturday, Feb. 22 at Sochi's Sanki Sliding Center.
After Kripps had been the best of Canada's three pilots in two-man competition earlier in the Games, coaches made a switch to give him the best possible push team for the four-man event. They sat eighth, 0.35 seconds back of the leaders after one run, but flipped over in Corner 14 on their second run. Kripps and Jesse Lumsden, Ben Coakwell and Cody Sorensen were able to walk away from the crash, though Coakwell and Sorensen were replaced by Luke Demetre and Graeme Rinholm for the third run. The team sat 30th after three heats and did not qualify for the final run.
Chris Spring, who had his push team swapped with Kripps before the race and was not shy about voicing his displeasure with the decision, finished 13th at the controls of the Canada 1 sled. Lyndon Rush piloted Canada 2 to ninth position.
TOP-30 FINISHES FOR XC TEAM
Alex Harvey and Ivan Babikov hung around with the lead group for much of the men's 50-km mass start cross-country race on Sunday, Feb. 23, but weren't able to keep up as the pack pulled away over the final stretch.
Harvey and Babikov crossed the line together in 19th and 20th place, respectively, in the final Nordic event of the Olympics. Canada's Graeme Killick scored an impressive 28th-place result, better than any he's recorded in World Cup competition to date.
Jesse Cockney placed 56th, while three Russian skiers swept the podium, led my gold medallist Alexander Legkov.
Canadians were not a factor in the women's 30-km mass start the day before, with Brittany Webster placing 46th for the team's top result.
Jean-Philippe Le Guellec gave Canada an early lead in the men's 4 x 7.5-km biathlon relay on Feb. 22 until needing to take a trip through the penalty loop on the first leg. He and teammates Scott Perras, Brendan Green and Nathan Smith finished seventh.
In the women's 4 x 6-km relay held Feb. 21, the Canadian team of Zina Kocher, Megan Heinicke, Megan Imrie and Rosanna Crawford was as high as second on the final leg, but Kocher had trouble at the range as the anchor and the team wound up eighth.
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