Tsubota, d'Artois named to national freestyle ski team 

Athletes already have an eye on 2018 Games

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF CANADIAN FREESTYLE SKI ASSOCIATION - Freestyle Team Named Whistler's Yuki Tsubota and Simon d'artois have been named to this year's Canadian Freestyle Ski Team.
  • Photo courtesy of Canadian Freestyle ski association
  • Freestyle Team Named Whistler's Yuki Tsubota and Simon d'artois have been named to this year's Canadian Freestyle Ski Team.

Yuki Tsubota has no memory of the moment she is best known for.

The slopestyle athlete, who along with fellow Whistler resident Simon d'Artois has just been named to this year's Canadian Freestyle Ski Team, was making a final jump while competing in the 2014 Sochi Olympics but didn't have enough speed and suffered a violent crash.

She suffered a major concussion and broken cheekbone in the accident, which was so brutal that if you type any variations of the words "Sochi," "slopestyle" and/or "women" into Google, results involving accidents and falls come up first.

"Yeah, people loved that crash," the 21-year-old said with a laugh last week. "It's the same with my name: Yuki Tsubota + crash. I really want a redemption on that for the next Olympics for sure."

Tsubota, who ultimately came in sixth place, had to be stretchered off the course and only later found out that teammates Dara Howell (Huntsville, Ont.) won the gold medal and Kim Lamarre (Lac-Beauport, Que.) picked up the bronze.

"I was so out of it that for a week I don't remember things," said Tsubata. "I was in the hospital for it so don't have any memory, but I was very happy for Dara and Kim."

She admitted it took some time to mentally recover from the accident and get back in the air again but eventually put it behind her, capping the 2015 season with a gold-medal performance in slopestyle and a bronze in the big air at the World Skiing Invitational (WSI) on home terrain on Blackcomb Mountain.

The three women are all returning to this year's six-member national squad, which also includes Nikki Blackall (Barrie, Ont.), Kaya Turski (Montreal, Que.) and Anouk Purnelle-Faniel (Quebec City, Que.). The women will soon be heading to Breckenridge, CO for the Dew Tour event Dec. 7-13 that launches the 2015-16 season.

Tsubota said she is stoked for the season to begin.

"We just came back from Austria a week ago and I learned a couple of new tricks and just kind of made current ones better," she said. "I'm really looking forward to this first contest, and it is always a fun course they make for us."

Halfpipe specialist d'Artois, who grew up skiing moguls alongside Tsubota through the Whistler-Blackcomb Freestyle Ski Club, won't be joining them on the competitive circuit yet, as he is still recovering from a knee injury suffered last April. D'Artois, 23, wouldn't give an estimate for his return, but said he is eager to showcase some new tricks he learned before getting hurt.

"I had a training camp at the end of March actually where I learned some new tricks so I'm really looking forward to doing them this year," he said over the phone from Phoenix, AZ. "It is a right double ten in the pipe, so I'm taking off on a left wall and landing switch. Not many people are doing it because it is a little more technical and it hasn't really been done too much."

D'Artois wasn't part of the team representing Canada during the last Olympics despite coming close to making it, and now has his sights on competing in the 2018 PyeongChang Games in South Korea.

"I was definitely bummed," said d'Artois. "I did my best but it didn't really turn out."

He made a strong argument for future Olympic consideration last January in Aspen, CO by becoming the first Canadian to ever win X Games gold in the men's superpipe after throwing down three gigantic double corks in a row.

Joining d'Artois on the men's halfpipe team this year are fellow B.C. residents Justin Dorey (Vernon) and Matt Margetts (Penticton), Mike Riddle (Sherwood Park, AB), and Calgarians Kris Atkinson, Noah Bowman and Brendan MacKay.

JC André (Montreal), Travis Gerrits, (Milton, Ont.), Olivier Rochon (Gatineau, Que.) will represent Canada in aerials, while Mélissa Corbo (Blainville, Que.) is the sport's sole female competitor.

The women's halfpipe team is made up Roz Groenewoud (Calgary), Keltie Hansen (Edmonton), Cassie Sharpe (Comox) and Megan Warrener (Sylvan Lake, AB).

Athletes named to the men's moguls team are P.O. Gagné (Montreal), Marc-Antoine Gagnon (Terrebonne, Que.), Mikaël Kingsbury (Deux-Montagnes, Que.), Simon Lemieux (Repentigny, Que.), Philippe Marquis (Quebec City), Simon Pouliot-Cavanagh (Quebec City) and Luke Ulsifer (Calgary). The women's moguls team includes Montreal-based sisters Chloé, Justine and Maxime Dufour-Lapointe, Alex-Anne Gagnon (Terrebonne, Que.), Andi Naude (Penticton) and Audrey Robichaud (Quebec City).

Last but not least, the men's slopestyle team is made up of Alex Beaulieu-Marchand (Quebec City), Alex Bellemare (Saint-Boniface, Que.), Teal Harle (Campbell River), Evan McEachran (Oakville, Ont.).

The season will include two domestic FIS Freestyle Ski World Cups for mogul athletes on Jan. 23 in Saint Côme, Que. and Jan. 30 in Calgary, as well as X Games Aspen (Jan. 26-31) and the return of the X Games Europe held on February 24-28 in Oslo, Norway.

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