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Canadians stand tall in North Face pipe contest

Groenewoud tops women's event, Riddle fourth

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"The X Games has always been a dream for me, ever since I was a little kid," he said. "I can't believe I'm finally going to be there."

Third place went to American skier Joss Christensen.

Canada's Mike Riddle got bumped from the podium, but wasn't concerned. He said his own run was subdued because of the kind of week it's been with the Jan.10 critical injury to teammate Sarah Burke, and he was only using the event to warm up for Dew Tour and X Games.

"It was good to kind of take our mind off Sarah and focus on a competition," he said. "We were here practicing with an airbag and trying new tricks, and the contest came up. Most of us are focused on X Games, but it was good to have a local event to tune up our runs a bit."

Matt Margetts placed fifth on the day, which also happened to be his birthday. It was also a chance at redemption after he crashed on the deck at Whistler during the AFP World Championships, breaking some ribs. Noah Bowman also qualified for the finals and placed 11th overall.

On the women's side, Canada's Rosaline Groenewoud said she struggled a little with landings and getting air lower in the pipe, but it was still more than good enough to finish first by four points with an 88.2. American Maddie Bowman had some good air up top and some switch tricks, and finished her day with an 84.6. Keltie Hansen, who won the AFP World Championships in Whistler in April 2011, was third with an 82.0.

Groenewoud was satisfied with her day.

"It wasn't the cleanest run of my career but felt nice to put down my tricks," she said. "We came to support Whistler as much as we can, and felt good to put down a run that was good enough to win."

Groenewoud has been working on some new tricks that she hopes to bring out this season, but with the injury to Burke and the weather surrounding the contest she decided to stick with her stock run.

"It's been a bit of a challenge to get in good training with the adverse conditions, but that's our sport," she said. "We're used to competing in blizzards and rain and on sheets of ice and in slushy pipes. It ended up being a pretty nice day, and we got some blue sky."

Other Canadians in the running include Megan Gunning, who is coming back from an injury and placed fourth; Dara Howell in fifth, Kendall Deighan in eighth and Jackie Atkinson in 10th.

The contest took place at a time when the sport of ski halfpipe is in the limelight. In April, the International Olympic Committee voted to include the sport on the schedule for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. However, the latest headlines have been devoted to the recent injury to Sarah Burke, who was in Utah for a sponsor event when she fell in the halfpipe and sustained a serious head injury. She underwent brain surgery two days later to repair an artery, and was still in a medically induced coma on Monday morning.

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