B.C. skier soars to World Cup gold

Elena Gaskell of Vernon wins slopestyle event in New Zealand; Yuki Tsubota of Whistler third

What a start to the 2018-19 World Cup slopestyle season for Elena Gaskell.

The Vernon teenager won the season-opening event in Cardrona, NZ., finishing with a cumulative score of 170.40, propelling her to the gold medal.

This win adds to the fourth place she earned last week at the FIS World Junior Championships, also held in New Zealand.

A dream start to the season for Gaskell, who landed a switch dub 12 to take the win, the biggest trick by a female competitor to date.

“It’s such a good jump, it gives you a lot of time to spin and I had a feeling that I could put that jump down like I had in training and it worked,” said Gaskell who was accompanied by Whistler’s Yuki Tsubota (third) on the podium.

“I am pretty happy with my result. It was a big jump and I struggled with it all week. I chose to compete with two tricks that I knew I could land and I was comfortable with.”

Dara Howell of Huntsville, Ont. finished fifth.

The Canadian slopestyle team got off to a convincing start to the season by winning three medals at its first World Cup of the season. In fact, all Canadian athletes qualified for the final of the Big Air event that was being held today in Cardrona, New Zealand.

On the men’s side, all hopes were high as Vernon’s Noah Morrison and Evan McEachran (Oakville, Ont.) both won their respective qualifying rounds before the final.

McEachran delivered another solid performance with an overall score of 180.40, which earned him second place on the podium. He was joined by Andri Raggetli (182.00) and Finn Bilous (180.20).

“I am extremely happy with the second place, I am not much of a Big Air skier usually,” said McEachran. “I was in last place before I did my last run since I messed up my first jump so I had to make sure that I land my next two. I am glad I made it happen.”

Morrison ended up finishing 10th overall.

Alex Beaulieu-Marchand (Quebec City was sixth and Teal Harle of Campbell River was eighth.

Having made its World Cup debut in the 2015-2016 season, Big Air is now on the program for the FIS World Championships and the 2022 Olympic Games.

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