Teal Harle proved himself a noble warrior in the Czech Republic on Sunday.
The 19-year-old Whistler freestyle skier cashed in while he was at it, earning a cool $6,000 for his second-place showing in big air on March 6 at the Excelent Soldiers meet in Destné. Fellow Whistlerite Taylor Wilson took fourth and $2,000.
Even with a $20,000 total purse up for grabs, Harle described in an email that the atmosphere surrounding the competition was surprisingly laid back in an email.
"On the contest day I was feeling really good. It was really nice that it was during the night because we could sleep in and chill. The best part about the contest was that it was so relaxed. Just a bunch of friends hitting an awesome jump and having a great time. I never felt stressed or had any bad vibes the entire time," he noted.
Harle, who is originally from Vancouver Island before he moved to Whistler, explained his approach was to just keep on hitting what was working for him, using it as a base while adding other tricks as the heat intensified. It was a strategy that ended up paying off in spades.
"Throughout the whole contest I did the same style trick, a rodeo 720 genie to lead safety grab. In the second round of battles I went head to head with Jesper Tjader and I knew I would need my all to beat him. It was a tough battle but he ended up crashing in the final tiebreaker round of the battle and I moved on to finals," Harle wrote. "In the finals I had the same style trick and did a double cork 1260 blunt grab and, as my other technical trick, I did a different type of a double cork 900. I can't really explain the axis other than that it looks like a 180 into a switch double lincoln (side flip)."
Excelent Soldiers was a breath of fresh air, in a sense, as its setup pitted competitors directly against one another. Harle said he entered without many expectations, hoping to just enjoy himself, and things ended up working out in the end.
"The format of the event was really unique because there were head-to-head battles and you had to do a style trick under 720 (degrees). I think that helped me stay in a good mood as I wasn't always focused on doing my hardest, most technical trick," he said.
Harle was reached in Laax, Switzerland, the latest stop on his globetrot, where he will compete at the European Open from March 9 to 12. Since mid-February, he has gone to Bokwang, South Korea for an Olympic test event, then to Calgary and is now bouncing between European contests. He was in Silvaplana, Switzerland before briefly popping over to the Czech Republic.
"All the travelling I have been doing the past couple months has been insane," he noted. "It has been a really long trip but there are no complaints from me, just feeling blessed to be living this lifestyle of travelling the world to do the thing I love the most."
Harle will wrap his trip with the SFR Tour event in La Clusaz, France before returning home.