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Canadians podium at AFP finals

Mike Riddle wins halfpipe; Groenewoud third in pipe, Gagnier second in slopestyle



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In the end it was all about speed, and Emma Dahlstrom elected to play it safe with a big, floating 360 that she landed cleanly. She took the win, followed by Eveline Bhend of Switzerland and Anna Segal of Australia. Bhend tried a 540 and Segal a 720, but none of the landings were clean enough to get full points for the jump.


Despite the lack of sunshine, spring skiing conditions were very much in effect on Blackcomb Mountain on Sunday with slushy snow, slow takeoffs and soft landings for the AFP superpipe championships.

It was a good day for Canada overall with Mike "The Riddler" Riddle taking the men's event with a score of 92.6. Thomas Krief of France was second with an 87.0 and Joss Christensen of the U.S. took third with an 85.2.

Riddle's run was no question the best of the day with lots of air-time on every trick, spins in both directions, long grabs and clean landings from start to finish. His first hit was a huge double corked 1260, followed by a stylish 900 on the left wall, another stylish 900 on the right wall, a flatspin 360 and a switch 900.

Riddle wiped away a few tears of joy at the bottom, and not just because his contact lens had been knocked out of place.

"It's been a really tough season," he told reporters. "I haven't had any big results this year and I've been struggling a lot mentally. And it's been a tough year for the whole ski community in losing Sarah (Burke). I'm just really happy to end this season on a good note, and looking forward to the next one."

Riddle, one of the larger skiers in the pipe, said an equipment change and home field advantage also made a big difference with the conditions.

"I have brand new skis that I've been trying to get all year and they're super stiff so they support me," he said. "So that's a huge factor. I don't know... I just feel at home here and I feel confident."

Not until the event was over could Riddle relax, with all of the finalists more than capable of taking the win away in the best-of-two run format.

"I didn't know if it would be good enough," he admitted. "(Canadian teammate) Justin Dorey was throwing down and if he landed his run he had a really good shot at beating me. I was pulling for him, I like to see my friends land their tricks and celebrate, but I'm still happy with my result. It was kind of nerve-wracking sitting at the bottom and watching people come down, but at the same time it's all part of it."