January 22, 2015 was a really good day for the Sharpe family, of Comox, B.C.
Cassie Sharpe, 22, put down a career performance to win silver at the FIS Freestyle Ski World Championships in Kreischberg, Austria. Two days later her 19 year old brother Darcy matched the medal, winning silver in the snowboard big air event.
In June, Cassie was named the first ever ‘Female Rookie of the year’ by the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association. There are no shortage of brother-sister success stories in a family sport like skiing, but not even Google can tell us if siblings have won the same medal, at the same event before. We couldn’t wait to catch up with the Sharpe’s. Here’s more from our chat.
Who’s silver medal is more shiny?
Darcy: Cassie’s, because I left mine in my pocket with a bunch of coins when I went back home [Cassie laughs] and it actually looks haggard.
How many times do you perform a trick before trying it in a competition?
Cassie: It depends on the trick, I’ve done some things first try on-snow in competitions without ever having tried it before but with my Cork Nine, it took me 100 times on trampoline and at least 50 times into an air bag, and then one day I felt I was ready and my coach said “just to do it.” It takes time.
Have either of you skied in South Korea, at the venue for 2018? Do you have plans to ski there this coming season? How important is that?
Cassie: I went to South Korea last season with the Olympic committee, they took a couple of skiers down there to go check it out so that when we go for World Cups its not really a culture shock. It’s really cool, the venue is really good, it will be a neat contest but they’re definitely going to need to fix up their halfpipe pitch, but other than that, it’s kind of the same snow as Ontario, same kind of scenery, except nobody speaks English.
Where do you see freestyle going? Any thoughts on some of the young talent you see coming up through the ranks?
Darcy: There’s a couple kids from Alberta and B.C. that are killing it and should be doing well pretty soon but its just really hard now. It’s so competitive and the guys at the top aren’t looking to give up their spots. Once you get there, you have so many advantages like training camps, or sled laps, and photo shoots. All the stuff that just puts you on your board way more than young people coming up.
Cassie: I think also that people with sponsorships have more opportunities to do more things.
Is there room for even more athletic advances and accomplishments?
Darcy: There’s no more room for more athletic advancement [laughing]. I think its all up to the snowboarders as they continue to learn the sport and stay strong. Pretty much, you just need to stay strong, flexible, and stay on your snowboard and keep learning.
Cassie: Yes, and have fun. I think that’s one of the biggest things. People keep pushing it so hard to where it’s a lot, there’s a lot happening. So I think one of the biggest things is to have fun, be your own self, and have your own style.
Darcy: That’s well put. It’s hard to answer that question because it’s a scary sport now almost. You look at the sport five years ago and you thought maybe one or two guys were doing doubles and everybody else is doing corks and flat spins and you’d be like “Wow, I can go do that, I really want to go do that, there’s tons of people hungry for it.” And now, the kids that are looking up are seeing people doing triple corks casually at the end of their run, so its difficult to keep young people coming up when it’s getting so extreme.
Who has a good crash story?
Cassie: Obviously there’s been bad crashes where you’ve broken your ankle or destroyed your brain [chuckling], but the funniest one was when I was staring at my skis, which you shouldn’t do, you should always look where you’re going, but I looked up last-second and there was a sit-skier going right across in front of me. And I was like “oh my God!” and I jumped, like front-flipped over the guy in the sit-ski, and I double ejected, tumbled, and turned around to see if he was O.K. and he just slowed way down and tipped over on the slope. I was crying, and was like “I’m so sorry” and he was like, “That was sick! You didn’t even hit me! That was so sick.” And I was like “I’m so sorry” [laughing].
Darcy: That reminds me of a crash when I was wearing a big beaver costume with a head piece. I was just looking in the direction I was going and there was a skier to my left and I ran into her, and she was really mad and told me not to snowboard with a beaver head on.
Can you compare your family to any of the popular sitcoms or TV shows?
Cassie: Oh, Malcolm in the Middle, one hundred percent! Me, Darcy, and our older brother Doug would watch Malcolm in the Middle, and Dewey. [laughing] Have you ever seen Dewey with his big ears? [laughing] And then Reese, the older kid was one hundred percent Doug and I was always the normal one, Malcolm.
Do you guys have a skier vs. snowboarder thing going on? How did you settle disputes growing up?
Cassie: Well, Doug threw a piece of pizza at Darcy one time. [laughing]
Darcy: Yea, we wouldn’t normally fight too often.
Cassie: Except that time you threw my lip gloss in the bush and I got really mad. [laughing]
Darcy: Yea, Cassie would normally put me in my place.
Darcy, has your older sister helped inspire your athletic career? In what ways?
Darcy: Yea, she for sure has, just from having two older siblings that are in to action sports so obviously I’m inclined to do the same. We’d go out skiing and snowboarding together when we were young, getting buried by avalanches, doing gnarly runs, having a good time, so of course she’s helped me.
Cassie, do you look out for your younger brother?
Cassie: I think so, I think growing up I was a bit of a mom, but now its fun to just hang out and be around each other. It’s cool to kind of be in the same sport, but different sports, and seeing each other at really cool places at various contests.
Darcy: It is cool, sometimes when I haven’t talked to her for a couple days and the next thing I know I see her on the other side of the World, and it’s like “So hey, didn’t know you were coming here.”
Who do your parents spoil more, Cassie because she’s a girl, or Darcy because he’s younger?
Cassie: Darcy. [laughing]
Darcy: Yeah, I’d agree, it’s probably me.
Cassie: [laughing] Yea! He gets away with everything.
Talk about growing up, are your parents big skiers/snowboarders?
Darcy: Yep, my mom snowboards and my dad skis, and I started snowboarding while in the daycare that my dad put me in when he went to work, and we’d go skiing as a family pretty much every weekend.
Cassie: And we had big Christmas get together, where all of us would get together and ski and we rented a condo once and we had 12 friends staying with us. And mom and dad said that if we wanted 12 friends staying with us, we all had to go cross-country skiing, so we took everyone cross-country skiing and Darcy ended up trying to do a flip, on the cross-country skis.
Talk about what you do during the summer months to get ready for the upcoming season. What is your key focus?
Darcy: I don’t train very often in general, but I try to work out and just spend a couple of minutes every day visualizing some of the harder tricks I want to be doing. Other than that, I’m just taking a break so I can go into the season feeling fresh. I like to party, I like to go to the river, I like to hang out with my friends, and I like to snowboard in summer conditions if that’s an option like at Camp of Champions in Australia.
Cassie: I bought a road bike, so I’ve been doing that lots, and I built a garden today and just relaxing before the storm hits again, then we head to Mt. Hood, and New Zealand, and trampoline camps.
What else are you working on?
Cassie: Darcy and I are volunteering our time this weekend to go speak at a medical symposium at Mt. Washington for one of our physiologists that helps us out during the summer. We’ll be sharing our stories of injuries and recoveries and all that.
Darcy: We went up to the Vancouver Island Sports Society Dinner the other night to hang out with some kids and we donated some items to be auctioned off to help their cause.