Campbell River’s Teal Harle will be going back to the Olympics again this year for the big air and slopestyle freestyle skiing events.
The team lineup was announced on Jan. 24. However, for a while Harle was unsure if he’d be able to make the team. After a promising start to his season with a 2nd place in an Olympic qualifier event, Harle had a few rough competitions, landing him in the fourth spot for the Canadian Team.
Harle’s journey to the games started in Chur, Switzerland, where he placed second in the Big Air event. However, from there things did not go as planned.
“Every contest I just kept crashing and crashing and crashing. I would qualify into the finals fairly high, then I would crash on all of my runs and get last in the finals. I didn’t get any secondary results to back up that second place,” he said. “In the second-last qualifiying event in Mammoth (California), my teammate Mark Hendrickson bumped me out of fourth place because he had enough results. He moved into the fourth spot. Then I had one more opportunity in France to take it back. I basically needed to beat him in the contest and I could steal the spot back. I actually managed to land some runs. The last minute turn around was nice.”
Harle placed fifth in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. During those games, he was also able to enjoy the festival atmosphere. However, he’s expecting things to be a bit different this time.
“It’s nice that I already got the real Olympic experience,” he said. “I think this is going to be a lot less festive. For example in Korea I was able to go to the opening ceremonies, go watch events, check stuff out and hang out with other athletes. All that stuff is not going to be allowed. We’ll see how much socializing we can do. It’s bubbled so hard. I haven’t looked too much into it.”
Despite his iffy season leading up to the Olympics, Harle did have a few confidence boosters recently. On Saturday, he competed in the Big Air event at the X Games in Aspen, Colorado. In what he called “probably the highest level big air event ever to happen,” Harle placed a very respectable third.
“The amount of rotations and landed tricks was just out of this world. It felt pretty cool to be a part of that and to also stand on the podium during that. That was absolutely insane,” he said.
The terrain for that event is similar to what he’s expecting in Beijing.
“It’s nice to get on a big jump and do some contest runs and stuff and figure out what you can and can’t do, and what other people can and can’t do,” he said. “It allows me to kind of plan out my strategy a bit more. Maybe I can learn some new tricks. That’ll be a last minute cram for the test kind of thing. We’ll see.”
The team flies out to Beijing on Jan. 29 and Harle is excited about his chances. Based on last weekend’s showing it should be a great competition to watch.