France’s Wecxsteen and Canada’s Burke win first-ever halfpipe golds |

France’s Wecxsteen and Canada’s Burke win first-ever halfpipe golds

the associated press

RUKA, Finland ” France’s Mathias Wecxsteen and Canada’s Sarah Burke won the first gold medals in the new halfpipe event Thursday at the World Freestyle Ski Championships.

Wecxsteen lived up to his favorite billing in Ruka, Finland, finishing the men’s event with a score of 47.0 points in the second run. His French teammate Loic Collomb-Patton had 46.7 points, while third-place Canadian Corey Vanular had 44.0.

“I made a mistake in the qualifications and really got angry,” said Wecxsteen, who still led all 19 qualifiers in the morning. “The pipe was really good and the conditions were great.”

Copper Mountain Freeride Team’s Jaime Sundberg finished sixth.

Wecxsteen won the World Cup halfpipe title last year, but all three meets were canceled this season.

Burke also recorded her best score in the second run with 44.0 points.

Silver medalist Sarah Leskinen of the United States had 39.7 points and Grete Eliasen of Norway took the bronze medal with 38.2 points.

“The competition was awesome. It’s special to be part of the championships, and this time it felt more serious,” said Burke, referring to the more relaxed atmosphere at the recent X Games in Aspen, Colorado.

Leskinen and Burke travel together, “so it makes me even happier to be next to my good friend Sarah,” Leskinen said.

“The pipe was excellent,” she said. “I didn’t have any big expectations because this was so different from the X Games. I felt a little lost when I got here because everything was so serious.”

Halfpipe is not on next year’s Winter Olympic program in Turin, Italy. The only Olympic freestyle events are the moguls and the aerials.

The aerials and the ski cross events for both men and women are Friday.

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