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Harle wins first World Cup

Whistler resident tops World Cup slopestyle finale in Switzerland

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Teal Harle no longer is green with envy for FIS World Cup gold.

The 20-year-old Whistler resident topped the slopestyle podium for the first time at the season series finale at Silvaplana, Switzerland on March 3.

Harle scored a 92.80 to top the field, besting Americans McRae Williams' 90.20 and Gus Kenworthy's 88.20. Fellow Canadian Alex Bellemare also performed well, placing fifth.

"I'm so stoked and I still can't believe that I won. Finals were crazy, there were a ton of great runs put down. It was a nail-biter, for sure, watching some of the big names stomp their runs," Harle said in an email. "(I was) maybe a little under the radar since I was third last to qualify. Tried to go with the surprise attack, ya know? I had a ton of fun once I landed my second run I had to wait at the bottom for the rest of the boys to come down and watching their runs. It was a nail biter for sure but I was just stoked to land both of my runs and get such a high score."

His week got off to an inauspicious start, with his first few runs not going as he had hoped. However, Harle kept on progressing with each subsequent pass until he found himself atop the heap.

"I had a terrible training day the first day and somehow landed my run in qualies and made it to finals. Then finals day, I was feeling much more confident. I had a better start to the day and had my run figured out and was feeling good. (I) ended up landing my first run and scoring a 90.20. Then, second run, I stepped up my run a little and got an extra two points! Couldn't be more stoked on how I skied. Everything went exactly as planned," he explained.

The biggest things Harle tidied up over the course of his time in Switzerland was his landings, as well as finally nailing down a final trick that boosted his final run over the top.

"(I was) definitely (happy with) how cleanly I landed. That's the biggest way to lose points and I'm super happy with how I skied. Also, (on the) second run I managed to get the wallie 270 on 450 out of the wall feature, which I had been trying to get all week.

Harle, whose family runs the Podium of Life Academy, said the Silvaplana setup grew on him a bit after he started out holding a middling opinion of it.

"I really liked the layout of some of the features. Changing it up from some of the more classic slopestyle features. The first day I skied it, I really didn't like it. But it grew on me and by the end of it I was a big fan," he noted.

Freestyle Canada slopestyle head coach Toben Sutherland told the association's website that with Harle's positive attitude, it was just a matter of time until he found himself bringing home some hardware on the world stage.

"Teal really enjoys what he is doing. He is not too focused on the results. It shows when he skis that he is just having a really good time out there. He's fun to watch," Sutherland said. "His progression has been pretty fast. He is keeping it real. (He) wakes up everyday and wants to go skiing and just enjoys it. At the end of the day, he skis with a smile on his face and it shows in his runs."

A number of other Canadians competed in Switzerland, with Matthew Wilcox, Noah Morrison and Evan MacEachran coming 11th, 12th and 15th, respectively. Meanwhile, Max Moffatt took 37th and Alex Beaulieu-Marchand was 68th.

As for the woman, Kaya Turski was the top Canadian in 10th, while Dara Howell (15th), Anouk Purnelle-Faniel (18th), Kim Lamarre (20th) and Whistler's Yuki Tsubota (33rd) also competed.

Next up for Harle will be the World Championships in Sierra Nevada, Spain, as he'll wrap his competitive season there. He then is looking forward to returning to Whistler to experiment with some new tricks and enjoy some spring skiing.

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