Simon d'Artois got a step closer to representing Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games earlier this month.
The 25-year-old freestyle skier scored a podium appearance with a third-place finish in the halfpipe in Cardrona, New Zealand to earn his first-ever FIS World Cup medal.
"It feels really good to get a good result early on in the season. It's a great way to help me figure out where I am at with my skiing coming into this season and what I have to work on leading up to the first few competitions in December," d'Artois wrote in an email from New Zealand.After struggling in his first run in which he just barely scraped into the double digits for the judges, d'Artois slammed his second run by scoring an 88.60 and edging American Aaron Blunck by just over a point.
"I just wanted to ski well. My run was getting more consistent as the day went on and I put down my second finals run which came together well," he explained.
After not competing in 2015-16 while recovering from a torn ACL, d'Artois feels poised to put up a strong showing in this campaign. His trajectory before his injury was an upward one after winning in the superpipe at the 2015 X Games, and he's looking to entrench himself on that path after finishing in the top-10 at the four World Cups in which he competed last season.
"I'm feeling really good. I'm coming out of a good summer of training in the gym and feeling strong. I am currently in New Zealand and will be training on snow for a couple of weeks which will help get me to where I need to be for this season," he wrote.
While d'Artois was feeling physically strong heading into the Winter Games NZ competition, he explained that he still had some other challenges before he officially clipped in his boots and took his first runs in the southern hemisphere.
"I definitely had troubles for the first week or so before official training started for the event. (It was) more so just dealing with the mental side of the sport and how important it is to be comfortable in order to do what I need to do. With the Olympics on the doorstep in less than five months, d'Artois stressed he's pulling out all the stops to earn himself a coveted maple leaf and the opportunity to go for gold in South Korea.
"I am doing everything I can to go above and beyond with training on and off snow. It will be the biggest year of my career and I want to do everything I can to prepare myself for success," he said.