After working her way back from a potentially career-ending injury, Cassie Sharpe is about to embark on a second quest for Olympic gold.
The Comox-raised freestyle skier is the defending champion in women’s halfpipe, which she won at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games in South Korea. Beijing, China hosts the 2022 Winter Games Feb. 4-20.
After winning Olympic gold, Sharpe continued to put together strong results at various competitions. She has won several medals at X Games events. But about a year ago, she tore her ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), partially tore her MCL (medial collateral ligament) and fractured her femur. The injury occurred at the X Games Aspen 2021, as she was attempting the first-ever 1260 in women’s superpipe competition.
To repair the ACL, surgeons used part of her hamstring to rebuild the ligament. She struggled through an intense rehabilitation process, grinding it out five days a week in the gym, to return to competitive form.
“It’s been just under 11 months, and I feel super strong and good to go,” said Sharpe, 29. “The first bit of the season has been good. I’ve been slowly working my way back up the leaderboard, from a sixth to a fifth to a fourth. Hopefully this next contest (Olympics) I can put it all together.”
Her parents, Don and Chantal, saw her in action in 2018, but spectators aren’t allowed this time around due to COVID. However, Sharpe’s younger brother, Darcy, will be there to keep her company because he qualified for the Canadian snowboard team in slopestyle/big air.
“I’m one of the lucky ones that will have a bit of family with me out there,” Cassie said.
She lives in Squamish while Darcy lives in Whistler — less than an hour by car on the Sea-to-Sky Highway — but Cassie figures they see each other more often on the road than at home.
The women’s ski halfpipe competition runs Feb. 17 and 18 in Beijing.
“I feel like I’m coming back from my injury,” Sharpe said. “It’s been a hard year for everyone COVID-wise. I’m just going out there to perform at my best and do the best that I absolutely can, and try to get another podium. But I’m also going out there super proud of where I came from, even in just the last 11 months after my surgery. It’s been crazy and super challenging. No matter what happens, I’m going out there to have fun and enjoy myself and represent Canada. Everybody is going to try to win — definitely going out there with that intention.”
There is one World Cup event remaining after the Olympics, but Sharpe doesn’t plan to attend.