Sharpe edges her way onto the podium 

Strong third run gives Whistler resident major milestone

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CANADIAN FREESTYLE SKI ASSOCIATION - Whistler resident Cassie Sharpe (left) won a silver medal at the FIS Freestyle Ski World Championships in Kreischberg, Austria on Thursday.
  • Photo courtesy of the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association
  • Whistler resident Cassie Sharpe (left) won a silver medal at the FIS Freestyle Ski World Championships in Kreischberg, Austria on Thursday.

It was a day of gradual improvement for Cassie Sharpe.

The 22-year-old, who has lived in Whistler for the past four years, lacked a podium position at the FIS Freestyle Ski World Championships in Kreischberg, Austria after two rounds on Thursday.

Sharpe scored runs of 68.60 and 75.40 on her first two attempts, but she was determined to find a way into the top three with her last chance.

"The run that ended up winning it for me, I was standing at the top and I looked at my coach, Stephen Jefferies, and said 'I want to shake up the podium,'" she said. "He said 'You're Cassie Sharpe. You're gonna.'"

Sharpe created more than just a few tremors and made her final run count, posting the second-best run of the day with an 81.00 score. Though the procrastination isn't a habit she'll rely on, Sharpe said she does perform well under pressure.

"It was an insane amount of pressure, but it's something that I love doing," said Sharpe, a native of Comox. "It's just having fun and doing what I love and pushing my own boundaries that's so much fun for me.

"As much as I feel maybe like puking at the top, it's something that pushes me to push myself."

Switzerland's Virginie Faivre was in the driver's seat from the start, charging aggressively to an 83.30 in her first run and powering through from there. Mirjam Jaeger, also of Switzerland, used a 79.80 tally to score bronze.

Sharpe has competed in seven World Cup events since 2012, with her best result being a 12th at Copper Mountain in her second event in 2013. She has Nor-Am Cup pedigree, though, with four medals in six starts including a gold in Aspen last February. This silver will rank highly, she said.

"It was an amazing feeling. It's definitely an accomplishment to put on my bucket list," she said. "Getting a silver at World Champs is something not a lot of people get to say that they've done.

"It's an incredible feeling to stand on top of the podium and represent Canada."

Sharpe described each run as a building block to her penultimate attempt, where she hit the five judges with a series of tricks from her arsenal, placing a particular emphasis on grabs.

"I did pretty much the same run every time I did a lap, but I just kept adding elements to it just to keep the judges happy and push my own degree of difficulty," she said. "I dropped in with a smile on my face and it was so much fun. (The final run) ended up being a straight-end mute grab with a left flair leading tail and then a right flair safety grab, left-side safety grab, alley-oop truck driver, right alley-oop tail grab and then a right freeze safety grab."

With this year's X Games creating a conflict for competitors, the field was a relatively small one with just six competitors. At seventh, Faivre was the highest-ranked skier taking part. Sharpe stressed she would feel just as proud of herself even with a greater field in attendance.

"Of course it's a bummer not having them here," she said. "At the same time, you're still competing in the same field with the same girls that you would compete (with) at any World Cup.

"You're still doing the same run that you would do, you're still getting judged the same and you're still coming out there to win."

Sharpe, also an accomplished slopestyle athlete, said her focus is squarely on halfpipe for the foreseeable future.

"Halfpipe is what I've been aiming for (over) the past three years. It's been my focus," she said. "I wish to excel in that."

Speaking of Freestyle, Kreischberg

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