Sharpe riding high into halfpipe season as Olympic champ

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              FILE - In this Feb. 19, 2018, file photo, Cassie Sharpe, of Canada, jumps during women's halfpipe qualifying at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Sharpe was name-dropped in a tweet by movie star Ryan Reynolds, saw a little girl dressed up as her for Halloween and even got her face on a pair of socks owned by the prime minister.
These things can happen when you win Olympic gold. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)
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Cassie Sharpe was name-dropped in a tweet by movie star Ryan Reynolds, saw a little girl dressed up as her for Halloween and even got her face on a pair of socks owned by the prime minister.

These things can happen when you win Olympic gold.

Sharpe won the halfpipe skiing competition in South Korea, nailing jump after jump and thrilling her native Canada. She gave Prime Minister Justin Trudeau the special socks during a meet and greet at Parliament Hill with other Olympic medalists in May. The idea came after she saw socks adorned with Trudeau’s face at a tourist shop in Vancouver and bought them to wear to the meeting.

“I told one of my friends about it and she was like, ‘You should get socks with your face on them and give them to him.’ So yeah, I gave the prime minister socks with my face on them,” Sharpe said with a laugh in a phone interview with The Canadian Press. “He said people always give him stuff with his face on them so I was like: ‘you know what? Funny you should say that,’ and I pulled up my pant leg and showed him my socks with his face on them.”

The visit to the capital was just one of the highlights for Sharpe in a summer that also saw her take some much-needed time for herself after years of near non-stop training for her Olympic debut. She went to Mexico, Disney World and Japan over a three-month break. Now that she’s back on snow in the Colorado mountains, Sharpe is ready to defend her World Cup points title at her season-opening event at Copper Mountain.

Sharpe finished first in qualifying runs Wednesday for the weekend’s competition with 93.75 points. She called the Copper Mountain halfpipe her “nemesis” — three years ago, she took a tumble on the course while doing one of her easier tricks and has had trouble turning off the negative feelings.

“I think coming into last year I was only thinking about that (fall) and I wasn’t aggressive, I wasn’t enjoying skiing it, I had so much on the back of my mind,” said Sharpe, who’s spent the last few weeks training in Austria. “I think this year coming into it I’ve tried to only have positivity about it and not dwell on something that happened three seasons ago. We’ll see how it goes but I’m definitely trying to emote more positive vibes toward this pipe.”

Sharpe capped the 2017-18 halfpipe campaign with a World Cup victory in France a month after winning Olympic gold. The 26-year-old won two other World Cup competitions last year and added to her medal haul with a Dew Tour gold and an X Games bronze.

While the next Olympic Games is still three years away, Sharpe said she is not taking it any easier this season. The pressure to maintain her top ranking is serving as a motivation.

“I definitely feel the pressure of being the athlete on top,” Sharpe said. “I feel like it’s more performing on demand — like I have to always be on and skiing my best to maintain that spot and that pressure and expectation that I’m going to do that. That’s what I feel more, but I’m for sure my worst critic. I’m the person who pushes myself the most.

“My family, my coaches, my team, no one is putting that pressure on me. So I’m trying to just be more positive and go out there with a more fun (attitude) instead of that heavy, competitive vibe all the time. I just want to have fun with this season.”