Canada’s Groenewoud soars to ski superpipe victory
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – As she mourns a fallen friend and Canadian Freestyle Ski Team cohort, Roz Groenewoud said she has been leaning on a shaken but unquestionably united freeskiing community.
“Friday morning and today, I just tried to let all that love lift me up,” the 22-year-old from Calgary, Alberta, said.
The outpouring of support literally and figuratively did just that Saturday. Groenewoud routinely soared high above Buttermilk and ultimately landed on top of the Winter X women’s ski superpipe podium after posting a score of 93.66 – the highest in event history.
“This one’s for Sarah,” Groenewoud said afterward, choking back tears as she reminisced about Sarah Burke, one of the sport’s staunchest and most amiable ambassadors, who last week passed away as a result of injuries sustained in a training run crash in Utah.
A field of eight paid tribute to their fallen cohort Saturday with everything from armbands, signs and stickers to their performances in a sun-splashed superpipe where Burke won four Winter X golds.
South Lake Tahoe, Calif.’s Maddie Bowman produced three scores in the 90s, winding up with silver after a high of 92. Brita Sigourney, a Carmel, Calif. native and freestyle coach at Squaw Valley resort, landed the competition’s only 1080 on her third and final run, which secured her a 90.66 and a bronze.
“I didn’t land my first two runs, so I was definitely a little jittery at the top of the pipe,” Sigourney said. “My coach decided it was all or nothing, so I just went for it. It worked out well for me.”
Sigourney finished second to Burke last year in her Winter X debut.
“Obviously she was the leader of our sport and meant a lot to us. We all looked up to her,” Sigourney said. “It was just great to be around her. Obviously, we miss her, but it’s great to all be together still and share the love we have for her.”
Added Groenewoud: “I think the best way to honor her legacy is to all keep pushing each other and ourselves and try to be the best skiers we can be and go bigger and do bigger tricks.”
She heeded her own words Saturday during a dynamic second run. Third after the opening round, Groenewoud flew about 14 feet out the pipe on her first hit.
“It’s probably my favorite part of the run, to feel like flying,” she said.
After landing a clean rightside 900, Groenewoud linked two 540s, then finished with a 720 and a switch rightside 540.
The effort was good enough to unseat Bowman, who set the pace early with a clean run that featured a leftside 900 and a slew of stylish airs.
“Honestly, this is kind of shocking. It’s just now sinking in,” said Bowman, who made her Winter X debut in 2011. “I’m honored to go out and ski like Sarah would’ve wanted. …Growing up, she was definitely an idol. … Last year was the first time I met her at X Games, and she made me feel so welcome. She was such a nice person. It’s hard for everyone, but for us to all be together is probably really good.”
Groenewoud echoed those sentiment, suggesting Saturday’s competition was an opportunity to both grieve and begin to heal.
“There was so much camaraderie between the girls, and so many people cheering us on. It was really special to be a part of, and I’m really proud to be a skier at this moment,” she said.
“(The win is) definitely bittersweet. It would’ve been better if I got a hug from Sarah at the bottom.”
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