The Canadian Freestyle Ski Team dominated last season and for eight of the last nine years they've won the Nations Cup. If the results from this weekend are any indication, Canada's not ready to give up the top spot anytime soon.
At the Dew Cup season opener in Breckenridge, Colorado, the ski-halfpipe team pulled in three medals. Justin Dorey won the event while teammate Mike Riddle picked up the bronze medal behind Byron Wells of New Zealand; Rosalind Groenewoud placed third in the women's event behind Brita Sigourney and Maddie Bowman of the U.S. Keltie Hansen was sixth for Canada.
Dorey didn't get to enjoy his victory in style after he crashed in his second run and dislocated his shoulder. He credited the win to skiing conservatively, which is a new concept for him.
"I usually go for broke every run," he said. "Sometimes it works but it's a gamble. I knew I needed a podium for the Olympic qualifying so I was a little more reserved. That helped me focus."
Riddle was excited to have a good result early, earning points for Canada and himself to ski in the first ski halfpipe ever held at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
"This is the most important event for us so far as what the results mean," said Riddle, who is the defending World Champion. "It's huge to get a podium, so I'm unbelievably excited. Now I hope to build on it."
Groenewoud, the defending women's champion, said the previous week of training at Copper Mountain helped the skiers prepare.
"It has a similar altitude, similar weather patterns (to Breckenridge)," she said. "Training there went very well. Now it's nice to start with a podium. It's our first qualifying event for the Olympics, so it's a great way to start the whole qualifying season."
It's unknown how Dorey's shoulder injury will affect the rest of his season, if at all. Doctors will continue to monitor him, and as of Monday he was still planning to keep to the same training and contest schedule.
In the slopestyle event, Canada's Kaya Turski kept her winning streak alive from last season with a score of 87.25, which no other competitor came close to. Pemberton's Yuki Tsubota posted the next-highest score, a 72.25, to pick up the silver medal, while Anna Segal of Australia won third with a 56.75. Dara Howell was fifth.
The low scores were the result of the challenging conditions.
"It was really, really windy and gusty," said Turski. "It was really sketchy out there. I'm just glad I made it down the course. I just tried to keep it together and I know everyone kind of struggled with the speed.