Off-day for halfpipe athletes at World Championships 

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The FIS Freestyle World Championships opened in Voss, Norway this week with the halfpipe competition kicking things off. While Canada has been on the podium at every event so far this season, it just wasn't the team's day.

Mike Riddle led the team in fourth place overall, a full five points back of the podium. Americans David Wise and Torin Yater Wallace were first and second, separated by just 0.6 points, while French rider Thomas Krief was third.

"That was probably the most insane final I have ever watched," said Riddle after the event. "The competition was insanely high here in the finals.

"I am happy that I landed my run but it wasn't perfect and I'm going to work towards a better run next year."

The difference for Wise was a run that included two double corked 1260s (two flips with three-and-a-half twists). Most competitors have doubles in their bags, but keeping enough speed to land two of them in one run is tough.

Matt Margetts was sitting in first after the qualifier but finished in 11th after a few mistakes stole his momentum. Meanwhile Whistler's Simon D'Artois, who is returning from a concussion, finished ninth overall. It was actually his second comeback this season after he was injured in the first event as well.

"I am super stoked I landed my second run," he said. "I have never done a run like that before so it's pretty sweet and I'm excited. I added a double cork at the top of the run and I've never really landed that in a run before, and especially linking it to a double flat (spin) 720 — it's unreal for me. It definitely boosts my confidence a lot just to know I can compete with the rest of the field."

Noah Bowman of Calgary was 10th while Kris Atkinson was 21st.

On the women's side, Rosalind Groenewoud is usually a top three contender but finished her day in 10th. Keltie Hansen, having her best season yet with a few podiums to her credit and a bronze medal at the Olympic test event at Sochi, was seventh.

Groenewoud, who landed her first competition 1080 in the qualifier on Monday, has already qualified for the Olympics but was disappointed on Tuesday after she fell on both 1080 attempts.

"I think that's just part of learning new tricks," she said. "My whole run combination has changed and the 1080 is new, and I don't have the mileage on it because it's so new. So I'm really, really happy to be pushing myself, though obviously I'm not happy with today's results."

The World Championships continue through the weekend with moguls, dual moguls, ski cross, slopestyle and aerials competitions.

McMorris, O'Brien top U.S. Open

Canada's Mark McMorris ran away with the Burton U.S. Open Slopestyle gold medal on Friday, making the best of challenging, snowy conditions to take the win at Vail, Colorado. Torstein Horgmo of Norway placed second, while Chas Guldemond of the U.S. took third.

Other Canadians in the contest also cracked the top 10, with Maxence Parrot placing ninth and Whistler Valley Snowboard Club rider Darcy Sharpe in 10th place overall.

"It means a lot to me," said McMorris of the win. "It's the event where I got my professional career started five years ago (when) I made the finals. Just to win the longest running snowboard contest ever is good for me and I'm really happy."

The win earned McMorris $45,000, plus the overall TTR World Tour title for slopestyle. Sharpe was also recognized as the top young rider on the TTR tour with the Rookie of the Year title — a distinction that came with a briefcase packed with $10,000.

On the women's side, North Vancouver's Spencer O'Brien placed first overall by default after posting the top qualifier run on Wednesday. Because of the snow the organizers were forced to cancel the women's finals and use the qualifier score to determine the overall winners. American Jamie Anderson placed second, followed by Canadian Brooke Voigt — her biggest result to date.

Interestingly, Canada's top slopestyle athletes are from the Prairies. McMorris grew up in Regina, Saskatchewan while Voigt is from Fort McMurray, Alberta.

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