Canada on top of the freestyle skiing medal ranking
PyeongChang (KOR) - Canada dominated the freestyle skiing competition at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games by taking four of the 10 golds on offer during 12 days of fierce but friendly rivalry at Phoenix Snow Park.
Although USA and Switzerland battled them throughout, it was telling that Canadians filled the top two podium places in the final event on Friday when teammates Kelsey Serwa and Britanny Phelan (CAN) took gold and silver respectively in the ladies' ski cross.
Phelansaid their success shows that friends who train together can also win medals together. "It's absolutely amazing. It couldn't have worked out any better. To finish second behind my best friend, it's like a dream come true."
Bronze went to Swiss skier Fanny Smith (SUI).
The first freestyle skiing gold of PyeongChang 2018 went to France when teenager Perrine Laffont (FRA) battled fatigue from finals one and two to win the ladies' moguls on February 12. Silver for Justine Dufour-Lapointe (CAN) opened Canada's freestyle skiing medals tally, while Kazakhstan's Yulia Galysheva (KAZ) took bronze.
The next night, Mikael Kingsbury (CAN) cemented his and Canada's dominance in moguls skiing with gold, as Matt Graham (AUS) took silver and Daich Hara (JPN) claimed bronze.
"I've dreamed about this since I was eight years old," Kingsbury said. "I just realised my dream today and it's the best day of my life."
As one dream came true, another came to an end for two-time Olympic medallist Lydia Lassila (AUS), who is retiring from aerial skiing after she failed to land her jumps during qualification on February 15.
The next evening Belarus successfully defended the ladies' aerials gold medal it won at Sochi 2014, but the name at the top this time was Hanna Huskova (BLR).
Six-time Olympian and 2014 gold medallist Alla Tsuper (BLR) could finish only fourth behind HUSKOVA, whose gold also consigned Zhang Xin (CHN) and Kong Fanyu (CHN) to the silver and bronze respectively - another narrow miss for China in this event.
China also missed out on gold in men's aerials, when Oleksandr Abramenko (UKR) claimed the title with a near-perfect back-full-full-double-full, ahead of Jia Zongyang (CHN), while Ilia Burov (OAR) took bronze.
In ladies' ski slopestyle Mathilde Gremaud (SUI) shrugged off a bad fall in training to claim silver behind teammate Sarah Hoefflin (SUI) on February 17.
Men's slopestyle skier Oystein Braaten (NOR) landed the best run of his life on February 18 to win gold but had to watch his rivals throw down trick after trick before he was sure of beating silver medallist Nicolas Goepper (USA) and bronze medallist Alex Beaulie-Marchand (CAN).
"It was such a pleasure to be a part of the best slopestyle skiing competition in history," Goepper said. "I'm an athlete first, but I'm a super-fan second. I could watch this stuff all day long."
Two days later Cassie Sharpe (CAN) put down two of her best runs to give Canada its first Olympic gold medal in ski halfpipe. Silver went to Marie Martinod (FRA) while Brita Sigourney (USA) claimed bronze.
In men's ski cross Brady Leman (CAN) survived a rough-and-tumble day on February 21 to take gold and banish the disappointment of just missing out on a medal in 2014.
"To battle back from that and stay strong and confident in myself is huge, and I'm just so proud," Leman said.
New Zealand won its first Olympic freestyle skiing medal on February 22 when 16-year-old Nico Porteous (NZL) clinched third place in the men's ski halfpipe.
Defending champion David Wise (USA) bounced back after losing a ski in each of his first two runs to bag his second Olympic gold medal in the event. Teammate Alex Ferreira (USA) took silver after landing all three of his runs.
Canada's haul of four golds matched its tally from Sochi 2014, although its total of seven medals was two fewer than four years ago.