As women’s slopestyle was a sport that late Canadian ski legend Sarah Burke worked so tirelessly to bring into the Winter Games fold, it was only fitting that a Canadian earned the first gold in the event. With the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park serving as the backdrop for the newest chapter in women’s competition at the Winter Games, Dara Howell won Canada’s fourth overall gold medal at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
Hailing from Huntsville, Ontario, she would grab the gold in the inaugural slopestyle ski competition with a score of 94.20 during her first run. Fellow Canadian Kim Lamarre won the bronze, scoring 85.00 on the second run, while American Devin Logan obtained the silver. All three have made a memorable mark in Sochi as this titanic trio signifies the first medalists in the history for the event.
Previously stating that she was hoping a Canadian would win the gold medal, it almost happened that Canada could have swept the podium. Considering other Canadian competitors finished in fourth and fifth place, Logan’s acrobatic run prevented the sweep.
At only 19 years old, Howell certainly represents the promising future of the sport. Although it may take time to absorb what has transpired, there is no question that Howell has earned herself a place in the hearts and minds of Canadian sports fans. Dedicating her victory to Sarah Burke, it signified a tremendous growth as a competitor and as a person.
Friends and family gathered at the Muskoka Ski Club to watch the event on television. Rounds of applause, cheers of celebration and tears of joy defined the gathering as a homegrown talent made worldwide headlines. Victory celebrations for Howell upon her return home include skiing with her 99-year-old grandfather.
Despite the jubiliation of Howell’s victory, there was also desolation among her fellow Canadian competitors. Yuki Tsubota of Whistler, BC had to be removed from the course on a stretcher with a severe jaw injury. With a very slushy course, she missed her third jump as she slid down the hill in pain.
Montreal’s Kaya Turski, whose innovative surgery provided her with the chance to make her Winter Games dream come true, fell twice in qualifying. In one crash, she separated her shoulder. While she valiantly popped it back into place, her status as a medal favorite quickly evaporated afterwards. Gracious in defeat, she congratulated her Canadian teammates on social media.