An interview with Cassie Sharpe, Olympic gold medal frontrunner in women’s halfpipe

An interview with Cassie Sharpe, Olympic gold medal frontrunner in women’s halfpipe

Cassie Sharpe is one of the most passionate people in skiing, whether it’s the focus on her athletic career, the love for her family and friends or finding delicious spots to grub, the 25-year-old from Camox, BC doesn’t hold back.

When it comes to women’s halfpipe skiing, Sharpe is constantly elevating her tricks and pushing herself to go as big as the guys. The Canadian’s list of achievements seems to be ever-growing: she solidified herself a spot to compete in the PyeongChang Olympics with a World Cup gold medal win in Aspen this weekend; she earned a gold medal in halfpipe at X Games Oslo last winter; she’s struck a sponsorship with Monster Energy; and she’s becoming a staple on the women’s halfpipe podium.

But in the slight breaks between training in New Zealand, performing at the top of her class in contests and strengthening herself in the gym, she makes time for what’s important. During one of these recent breaks, I was fortunate to catch up with Cassie in Whistler and talk to her about the competition season, PyeongChang, women’s skiing in the media and inspiring the next generation of freestyle skiers.

Over the last year, you’ve really stepped it up in your contests. Has there been much of a difference in your life after these achievements?

Honestly, not that much of a change. It’s definitely given me confidence in myself and in my riding, though. I know that when I really turn it on I can perform under pressure, so thats definitely reassuring. But, in day to day life, it hasn’t changed much except for my commitment to the sport. Going to the gym and doing all sorts of cross training to stay strong [is a main priority].

Is there a moment from the last year that you’re particularly proud of?

I am so proud of my winning run at World Cup Finals in France, at the top I knew that I had won and I thought about just doing a straight air lap but thats not me. So I buckled down and became the first woman to land a switch cork 7 in competition and upped my own score! I’m very proud of that moment.

How have you been prepping for this season on snow?

Every year, I train down in New Zealand for five weeks. This year was a little different because there was also a competition; so, I did two trips and was down there for a total of seven weeks. I love being in NZ—it’s phenomenal… the landscape reminds me so much of home and I feel so comfortable. Once I returned home, I had a two-week fitness camp and a couple trampoline sessions to keep my air awareness sharp. I’ve also been doing some alternative strength training to stay strong all around.

Cassie Sharpe

Flying 10 feet out of a halfpipe is like a Sunday stroll for the Camox, BC native. Photo by Aaron Blatt.

Which athletes do you get most excited to ski with during the contest season?

Obviously, I love skiing with my Canadian crew and I’m really excited to be out there with everyone. Getting back on the circuit is like reuniting with all your best friends. If I had to choose I really love doing laps with my girls Meg Warrener, Allie Welsh and Janina Kuzma… they just know how to keep the stoke high and we always cheer each other on, it’s the best!

Heading into the PyeongChang Olympics, is there anything you’d like to see happen in the media when it comes to women’s skiing?

I feel like women’s skiing all across the board—slope, big air, aerials—gets aired very little in the media, and, when it does, a lot of the time [news outlets] are tearing into us for not being at the same caliber as the guys. I’d just love to see more coverage, in general, and also [a focus on] celebrating what women are doing. We’re not men and we never will be. All we can do is push ourselves as hard as we can while being as safe and calculated as possible to minimize injury.

Cassie Sharpe

Podium appearances and contest wins for Sharpe, center, are becoming the norm. Photo by Simon D’Artios.

After earning a spot on Canada’s Olympic halfpipe team, do you feel excited or nervous to be representing your home country in the upcoming Games?

It’s honestly a big mixture of everything! Excitement mostly but a solid mix of nerves, happiness, anxiety [and] pride! I just can’t wait to get out there and ski!

You spent some time in South Korea in 2017. Is there anything, in particular, you’re excited to see or do again?

I really love that halfpipe, it’s different from any other halfpipe I’ve ever skied…in the best way possible. South Korea is incredible, the people are wonderful and so welcoming and the food is top notch! The Korean BBQ is absolutely incredible—but what I’m really looking forward to indulging in is the ramen. There is a little food truck at the bottom of the hill [in PyeongChang] that I hope they don’t have to move for the Games because the ramen they make is so delicious. Also, karaoke in Seoul is the best!

Sharpe hones her chopsticks skills for the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang. Photo by Sarah Belford.

The Olympics is where inspiration begins for so many spectators of skiing, whether they are die-hards or just getting into the sport. Is there any advice you have for the next generation of kids watching you this season?

If the Olympics inspire someone to start something new, follow a new endeavor or develop a new passion that is incredible! The best thing about the Olympics is how it brings the whole world together to watch athletes excel in their disciplines. I would love to see more kids in halfpipe and slopestyle keeping the love and the joy of the sport alive! Do [whatever you do] because you love it, and whatever it is, enjoying what you’re doing is absolutely key!


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