THE CANADIAN PRESS
Canada’s Dara Howell had a hard time believing she was actually an Olympic gold medallist in the weeks following the Sochi Games.
The accomplishment still hasn’t quite sunk in.
Some 10 months after making history in Russia as the first women’s Olympic slopestyle ski champion, the 20-year-old from Huntsville, Ont., still has to pinch herself from time to time.
“I think when I’m old and, like 50, I’ll probably realize what happened,” Howell said with a laugh on a conference call. “But for now I’m just enjoying it and taking opportunities that come my way and just keep moving forward.”
Howell spent most of the summer off her skis, but that moving forward she spoke of includes a Dew Tour event this week in Breckenridge, Colo.
“I’m just getting back into it, but things are coming back the way I want them to,” said Howell, who also won silver at the 2013 world championships. “I think this season, it’s more just having fun and doing what I love to do. That’s pretty much it.”
In slopestyle, athletes try to impress a panel of judges with tricks and moves off jumps and rails, with degree of difficulty, style and execution factored into the scoring system.
Howell scored 94.20 points at the Olympics in conditions that started off icy and fast before becoming slow and slushy as the event progressed.
With the next Games not until 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea, both Howell and Canadian teammate Kim Lamarre — who won bronze in women’s slopestyle in Sochi — view this season as an opportunity to grow.
“I’m looking forward to this year. I definitely want to not get ahead of myself,” said Lamarre, a 26-year-old from Quebec City, Que. “There’s a lot of good girls that are coming back from injury that are young and hungry. I want to keep my head in a good place and work on my tricks at my own pace.
“This year is not the biggest year and I just want to make sure I stay healthy for everything that’s coming my way.”
Howell said life has been different since winning Olympic gold, but added that the title doesn’t change how she prepares for events.
“I’m just trying to go out and do the best that I can do,” she said. “I think that before the Olympics I put a lot of pressure on myself and I still think I put more pressure on myself than what anyone else can.
“The approach for this year is still to compete and still to have the mindset of competing and all that stuff, but I definitely want to keep progressing and keep learning new tricks.”