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Canadian freestyle skier MacKay crowned halfpipe world champion

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BAKURIANI, Georgia – Brendan MacKay’s gold-medal performance in the men’s halfpipe highlighted a three-medal day for Canada at the world freestyle skiing championships on Saturday.

The 25-year-old from Calgary topped the podium with a score of 97.25, to finish one-and-a-half points ahead of silver medallist Jon Sallinen of Finland.

“Once I saw Jon go, I knew I had to do better if I wanted to win. His run was sensational. So I gathered my focus and went for it. It went really well, and I’m very happy with how I skied,” said MacKay, who also finished second in the overall World Cup standings.

“At the last worlds, I was first after the qualifiers, but I wasn’t able to hold onto that lead in the final. This time, I wanted to go all the way, and I knew my run would have to be exceptional. I’m proud of my performance.”

American Alex Ferreira took home bronze, finishing just one point ahead North Vancouver’s Simon d’Artois.

Rachel Karker, of Erin, Ont., claimed the bronze medal in the women’s halfpipe.

Karker, who won her first career Crystal Globe in the discipline on the World Cup tour, earned 92.25 points in her opening run, putting her in provisional second place. However, she was unable to improve on the score due to a series of crashes on her subsequent descents.

American Hanna Faulhaber, who was second to Karker in qualifying, won gold with 95.75 points, while Zoe Akin of Great Britain nabbed silver with 94.40.

Megan Oldham, of Parry Sound, Ont, won the bronze medal in the big air competition with a total score of 174, just one point behind silver medallist Sandra Eie of Norway.

Tess Ledeux of France won gold with a total score of 186.75.

It was 21-year-old Oldham’s second podium finish at the world championships. On Tuesday, she won silver in women’s slopestyle.

“It’s been an incredible week. I didn’t expect to perform so well, and I’m super happy to have won another medal, especially since it happened on my third jump,” Oldham said. “The snow conditions made landing difficult, but I managed to get onto the podium. I couldn’t be happier.”

On the men’s side, following strong qualifying performances, Canadians Noah Porter Maclennan (123.75) and Teal Harle (35.00) settled for eighth and 10th place, respectively, in Saturday’s big air final.

American Troy Podmilsak claimed gold with a final score of 187.75, ahead of Austrian Lukas Muellauer (184.50) and Norwegian Birk Ruud (183.50).

Canada won a total of six medals at the world championships.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2023.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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