words and photos by Allison Kennedy Davies
The Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado are a huge event for action sports athletes. Unlike the Winter Olympics, the X Games are an annual competition, giving competitors a chance to face off against the best in their sport. In 2019, three athletes with local roots qualified to compete at X Games: Evan McEachran, Rachael Karker and Mikey Ciccarelli.
McEachran, an Oakville native, grew up racing on the slopes at Craigleith Ski Club before transitioning to freestyle skiing. He’s been on the National Slopestyle team since 2012 and competed at the PyeongChang Olympics in 2018, finishing sixth. At X, McEachran was slated to compete in both Slopestyle and Big Air ski events. He qualified for both finals, impressing the field with by winning his Big Air qualifier to advance to the eight-man final under the lights Saturday night. McEachran battled his way to a fourth-place finish in big air holding down third place for most of the contest. A missed landing on his last run saw him tweak his knee and he was forced to make the tough decision to sit out the Slopestyle finals on Sunday. Having against recently bested the same field at a Dew Tour event in January, it was a tough call to make. You can find out more about this Craigleith Ski Club alumni by following him on Instagram @evanmceachran
Rachael Karker was the second locally-trained skier to compete at X this January. Karker arrived at X hot off a Halfpipe win at the Dew Tour in December where she defeated Olympic gold medalist and fellow Canadian Cassie Sharpe. Karker impressed at X Games, finishing just behind Sharpe in the women’s Halfpipe event to pick up a silver: her first X Games medal. A Guelph native, Karker grew up training at Blue Mountain Resort before joining the Ontario Freestyle and later the Canadian Freestyle team. You can follow Karker’s season on Instagram @rachaelkarker
On the snowboard side of things, Ancaster’s Mikey Ciccarelli competed in the men’s slopestyle event. Ciccarelli’s local ties are to Mount St. Louis Moonstone and the coaching program there, The Senders (formerly Simple Snowboarding), the brainchild of Wasaga Beach native Sam Marcotte. Ciccarelli rode well in qualifying and had a stressful afternoon of sitting in the final transfer position for the entire competition. He qualified seventh for Saturday’s 10-man final. Just making it to the finals is a huge accomplishment, but Ciccarelli was undoubtedly looking for more. He finished ninth in the finals after a bobble on his first run, a clean second run and a fall on his third run for a top score of 57.66. You can follow Ciccarelli’s season on Instagram @mikeyciccarelli
Wonder why southern Ontario is churning out such top-level talent? Be sure to pick up the fall 2019 issue of Mountain Life—Blue Mountains where we take a closer look at The Senders and Snowboard Canada’s Next Gen team (also packed with local riders). Also, watch for athlete interviews with McEachran and Karker in future issues.