Even though halfpipe skier Simon d'Artois won the FIS Crystal Globe just a couple days ago, the 27-year-old still knows there are ways he can improve in future seasons.
On the heels of his first-ever overall win, clinched with a second-place performance at California's Mammoth Mountain on March 9, d'Artois recalled that the overall title wasn't necessarily on his radar at first.
"My goal for the season was to ski consistently. I wanted to win all the events of the year. I ended up coming up with one first place and one second place in the five World Cup events, so two out of five isn't amazing but it's a step in the right direction," he said. "Coming away with the Crystal Globe, at a certain point, became a reality and a new goal."
In securing the crown, d'Artois had to overcome challenging weather, with the competition being forced back a day because of unfavourable conditions. In addition to the physical challenges the situation presented, d'Artois added that there are mental difficulties associated with the ever-changing schedule as well.
"You're taking risks when you're trying to perform at that level in the conditions that we had," he said. "There had been tons of snow and it was really windy. They had to clean out the pipe every night and basically turn it into a brand-new pipe again, which can be difficult."
When d'Artois dropped, he pulled off a run that scored a 93.80, second only to champion Birk Irving of the United States, who nabbed a 95.20. France's Thomas Krief hit the podium in third.
"You had to wait for a window that was suitable to drop in and I just wanted to do the run that I had been doing all season," he said. "I found two good windows and it was still pretty miserable when I had to drop in to do my run. I'm happy that I didn't have to change it too much or bring back the level at all. I was still able to perform at a high level."
Even with the overall title secured, 2018-19 wasn't always sterling for d'Artois as he struggled to incorporate a new trick, a switch right double 1080, into his run starting in January. Though his initial work with it in the autumn went well, his revisitation of it threatened to derail a promising season that saw d'Artois win an event in Secret Garden, China just before Christmas.
"It was tough in the middle of the season to have such low points, but I did find that I was able to get back up to where I needed to be pretty quickly," he said. "If there's a little inkling of doubt in that, it can go a long way and bring you down.
"Going back up there, trusting yourself and having the confidence to perform at such a high level really helps, but sometimes it's hard when the training is going otherwise and you're not really performing that well."
Eventually, d'Artois put the trick aside, though he said he'll likely revisit it this summer and hopefully have it good to go for 2019-20, as it would be a welcome technical addition to a stylish run as he already has two left doubles in it.
"This ties everything together a little bit more and has a technicality side that would add to the run as it is right now," he said.
After some challenging seasons, d'Artois thanked the Whistler community for its support and encouragement to help him see his dream through to an "unbelievable" feeling.
"For me, it's just cool to be at that level," he said. "It gets me excited to keep working hard and keep pushing myself to work for another Globe and work for the next Olympics."
On the women's side, Whistler resident Cassie Sharpe won at Mammoth to secure her second title in as many seasons. Sharpe scored a 95.60 to convincingly get past Estonia's Kelly Sildaru (87.40) and China's Kexin Zhang (82.20).
"I like to put myself under pressure. It stresses me out, but it's so fun. I came into this not expecting to get the globe, but I didn't want to get my hopes up about it. If it happened then yeah, but if it didn't, I did not want to be upset about it," she said in a release.
In slopestyle action on March 10, Whistler resident Teal Harle ended up with a fourth-place finish in the men's event, scoring 83.95, seven points back of winner Mac Forehand of the United States, and just 1.25 points off the podium. Norway's Ferdinand Dahl placed second while American Kiernan Fagan took third. Other Canucks in the top 10 included Max Moffatt in fifth and Philippe Langevin in seventh.
In the women's event, Canadian Megan Oldham made the podium in third with a 76.15 tally, 10.5 points back of winner Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland. Norway's Johanne Killi was second. Elena Gaskell took ninth while Whistler's Yuki Tsubota was 11th.