Canadian freestyle skier Rachael Karker secures 1st Crystal Globe with halfpipe bronze
Canadian freestyle skier Rachael Karker secured the first Crystal Globe of her career on Friday at Mammoth Mountain, Calif., earning her fourth medal of the freeski halfpipe World Cup season.
The 25-year-old from Erin, Ont., finished atop the women's halfpipe World Cup standings with 320 points, one spot ahead of Calgary's Amy Fraser (216).
Karker claimed bronze at the halfpipe World Cup finals on Friday with 91.75 points on her second run. She was edged by Zoe Atkin of Great Britain in the final moments of the competition and placed third. The best score from three runs determined the medallists.
"I came into this season just really wanting to get the Globe," Karker said from the finish area, "I was really nervous coming into today's competition, because of the wind, and I'm really feeling the wear and tear of the last few weeks on my body.
"I just wanted to stay safe today and get through in one piece, and it feels pretty good to get another podium and get the Globe."
WATCH | Karker claims World Cup halfpipe bronze:
Karker secured the Crystal Globe in the discipline after reaching the podium at all four freeski halfpipe World Cup stops this season, with gold at Copper Mountain, Colo., in December and two silver medals in Calgary last month.
She won halfpipe bronze at the Beijing Olympics last year, and earned silver in the superpipe event at the X Games last weekend in Aspen, Colo.
"It's crazy how the podiums can add up so quickly," Karker told Freestyle Canada. "I'm really proud to be skiing with this level of confidence for so long."
'I played it safe'
Several times during Friday's competition the athletes were forced to wait several minutes for the wind to die down before they could race.
"The conditions were challenging, and I didn't want to take any unnecessary risks," said Karker, who was first in Wednesday's qualifiers. "I played it safe and in the end, it paid off."
China's Zhang Kexin topped the podium by earning a score of 93.50, while Atkin scored 92.75.
Fraser finished just off the podium behind Karker in fourth with 87.25, while Dillan Glennie of Courtenay, B.C., was sixth (81.75).
Reigning Olympic and world champion Eileen Gu of China finished fourth in the women's halfpipe World Cup standings, one spot behind Zhang, after being unable to compete on Friday due to injury.
The 19-year-old Gu, who grew up in the U.S. but competes for her mom's homeland of China, suffered a bad ligament strain in her knee during practice for the X Games last weekend, forcing her to withdraw.
Tightly contested men's event
Calgary's Brendan Mackay won silver in the men's freeski halfpipe event on Friday with a score of 93.00, finishing one point behind men's Crystal Globe winner Birk Irving of the United States.
Three-time Olympic medallist David Wise of the U.S. claimed bronze (91.25).
Mackay sat fourth through the first round, moved to third with 90.25 points and in the final moments of the final improved to 93.00 to clinch second.
WATCH | Mackay soars to World Cup halfpipe silver:
"I'm really glad to have finished the day with the silver medal. The conditions were really difficult," Mackay said. "We didn't even know if the final would take place. Once I was on the course, I felt great and wanted to improve with each run."
With 272 points, Mackay is second to Irving (320) in the men's halfpipe World Cup standings.
Fellow Canadians Dylan Marineau (79.25), Andrew Longino (71.25) and Simon D'Artois (60.50) finished fifth, seventh and eighth, respectively.
Teammates Evan Marineau and Adam Fiselier did not advance past the qualification rounds earlier this week.
The 2023 FIS freestyle ski and snowboard world championships begin Feb. 19 in Bakuriani, Georgia.