Liz Stevenson earned a third place finish in Funaesdalen, Sweden on Saturday but the going was more tough on other mountains.
As the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi approach, the media is understandably getting more excited about, what with the return of Ski Sunday and sporadic updates about biathlon and downhill skiing in the news. One area that isn’t getting much attention, an area that deserves a bit of focus, is freestyle skiing.
Emily Sarsfield and Pamela Thorburn currently represent Great Britain in freestyle skiing, particularly the recent innovation of Ski Cross. The sport made its debut at Vancouver 2010, where Sarah Sauvey was Britain’s first hope in it. Her experience was short-lived, as she finished 34th out of the 35 entrants and failed to make into the 32-strong qualification field. As time moves on, it’s time for a new pair to attempt to lift Britain’s hopes.
Maybe not this time. At the latest World Cup event in Megeve, Sarsfield qualified 30th out of 35 finishers, but her final performance was lacking. Her progress has slipped from last week’s meeting in Les Contamines and she finished 32nd overall. Thorburn improved on her qualification rank to notch up a 24th place finish. This was, by far, her best performance in a World Cup event ever and even improved on last fortnight’s Europa Cup result of 26th. There’s still so far to go and medal hopes look bleak, but there’s a good chance of a respectable Olympic performance. Ed Drake was the other entrant over in the men’s Ski Cross but failed to finish either the qualification or the main World Cup event.
Liz Stevenson entered a reduced field in Sweden to earn 66 FIS points for her third placed finish on Saturday. The following day didn’t bring the same success, as Stevenson finished seventh out of twelve.
The real disciplines I attribute to freestyle skiing (as well as halfpipe skiing) are the aerials and moguls events. Ellie Koyander represented Great Britain in the moguls at the Winter Olympics in 2010 and finished 24th in the qualifying round, missing out on a place in the final. Koyander hasn’t competed since March last year and her finish of 29th in the Lake Placid World Cup event is a sign of feeling her way back into the sport, hoping for a spot in Team GB next year.
The same could be said for aerials skier Harry Gillam. After spending the last two years participating in the Nor-Am Cup, Gillam took the step up to take part in his first World Cup event at Lake Placid. His finish of 27th on the first day earned his first WC point… although he’s currently ranked last in the standings.