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Canada's Cassie Sharpe wins gold at final stop on halfpipe World Cup circuit

Canada's Sharpe wins halfpipe ski gold

TIGNES, France — Canada's Cassie Sharpe ended the World Cup halfpipe skiing season with a gold medal on Tuesday, giving her momentum heading into next week's world championships.

Sharpe, from Calgary, won handily with a score of 90.80, finishing ahead of Japan's Ayana Onozuka (86.00) and France's Marie Martinod (84.00).

Skiing last on the final run, Sharpe knew she had won gold before she hit the pipe after posting 87.00 on her second run. Instead of taking it easy, Sharpe turned up the difficulty for her final run, landing a switched cork 720 — a jump where she takes off backwards and does two full rotations on an axis that goes upside-down through the middle.

"On her victory lap she pushed herself even harder and used it as an opportunity to try a brand new trick and she nailed it," Sharpe's coach Trennon Paynter said. "She had a great moment there for herself and for the sport."

"It's not like she's the first one to do a switch 720, but she's the first one to do it in this manner," he added. it's a different axis she's rotating on, and that's what really made it stand out and what was a bit of a game changer."

Martinod finished atop the overall World Cup halftime standings, while Sharpe was fourth behind Martinod, Onozuka and American Annalisa Drew, who was fourth in Tignes.

Paynter said finishing ahead of the top halfpipe skiers will give Sharpe confidence heading into the world championships in Sierra Nevada, Spain. Sharpe won silver at the 2015 world championships in Kreischberg, Austria.

"She's known that she has the skills to compete with all of these girls," Paynter said. "It's been a very competitive year for women's halfpipe skiing, so for her to get a result like this now as we head into the world champs is excellent."

Tuesday's win is the second in her World Cup career. Her other victory also came at Tignes in 2015.

The Canadian Press