For Sigourney, bronze at worlds is latest milestone on long journey
The Park Record
PARK CITY, Utah — Where do the years go?
For Brita Sigourney, they’ve seemed to pass in a flash.
It’s been nearly eight years since she left Carmel, California, her hometown that sits tucked into a bay on the Monterey Peninsula, and her position on the water polo team at U.C. Davis for the snowy heights of the Wasatch Mountains.
When she came to Park City, she was one of the pioneers of freeskiing, joining the U.S. team in its infancy in hopes of making a name for herself in the sport she’d participated in since she was 2. The sport has since grown and changed rapidly.
But Sigourney, the oldest competitor in Saturday’s ski halfpipe World Championships at 29, still has what it takes to compete. By results, she is still in the summer of her career.
Lately, she’s been hoarding bronze like a laid-back, 5-foot-7 dragon.
A year ago, she notched perhaps the biggest achievement of her career with a bronze at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. After that, she took third in qualifying for the World Cup in Tignes, France, last March — then took bronze in the competition itself.
She struck again in December, qualifying third for the World Cup at Copper Mountain in Colorado, where she once again scooped up a medal made of a certain copper and tin alloy.
On Feb. 7, she qualified third for the World Championships in halfpipe skiing.
And finally, on Saturday, she did it again.
She stood on that little dais off the snow near the base of Eagle Superpipe at Park City Mountain Resort and bowed as someone slung a medal of you-know-what color over her head.
“I think it’s honestly just self-confidence, and feeling good,” she said. “I’m having a lot of fun. I’m not trying to put pressure on myself.”
She said she has taken some time off from training to go powder skiing and focus on her love of the sport, a tactic she said might have cost her podiums at X Games Aspen and Dew Tour in Breckenridge. She took fourth in both of those events.
“It’s kind of a rough spot to be in,” she said. “You’re so close but you don’t get any of the attention.”
On Saturday, she said she was happy to put those results behind her with a podium at the World Championships — her first time medaling in three appearances on that stage.
“I was hoping for a medal, but I just came out to ski like I know how,” she said.
The winner of the event, Kelly Sildaru of Estonia, is just 16, while Sigourney picked up the mantle of being the oldest competitor on the scene. Just last season, that wasn’t the case.
“I’ve been competing with people who are older than me for the last 10 years, and all of a sudden they are all gone and I’m the lone one left,” she said.
But Sigourney is excited about the future of the sport, and for now, she still considers herself part of that progression. And may continue to be for some time to come. Though she’s had multiple knee and shoulder surgeries over her career, she’s healthy once again.
“It’s all about how you feel,” she said. “And my body is feeling really good right now.”
Her skiing is good. She’s having fun. Why stop?
A good reason doesn’t come to mind, so long as the sport is still bringing her joy and her body is up to the task of hurling out of the halfpipe and — more importantly — sticking the often-dicey landings that follow her multiple flips and twists.
Sigourney said she will continue to pursue the top level of freeskiing indefinitely on a bi-yearly plan, stopping to check in on how she’s doing every other year to evaluate where she’s at physically and mentally. She’s not ruling out the possibility of competing at the Beijing Olympics — “It could definitely happen” — but that is a long time away in a sport with a risky, draining competitive season.
Sigourney, who has trudged over enough peaks and through enough valleys in her career to know when it’s time to clip in and when to sit out, understands the time to call it quits could be lurking over the lip of any competition.
But as Sigourney stood on the podium at PCMR Saturday, that was all just hypothetical.
For now, it’s still medal season.
Fully aware he was in the midst of the mountain bike race of his life, Aspen’s John Gaston said he “tried to not think too far ahead” to prevent the magnitude of the moment from getting to him. He eventually finished runner-up in the iconic race.
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