2021 Toyota U.S. Grand Prix Kicks Off at Copper Mountain
The U.S. Snowboard and U.S. Freeski teams are ready to throw down this week in the 22-foot Superpipe at Woodward Copper Mountain, Colorado. The team already has a day of training in the bag, and the reviews are in—this pipe is absolutely chiseled and ready to go. Take that as a sign that we should be prepared to see another heavy progression session as this international field of competitors drops in ready to unleash their newest tricks. The Toyota U.S. Grand Prix at Copper is one of four U.S. Olympic halfpipe snowboard qualifying events and one of six U.S. Olympic freeski qualifying events. This competition will serve as the first 2021-22 halfpipe qualifying event, bringing the best athletes in the world to debut their latest tricks ahead of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.
The field is stacked in men’s and women’s snowboard halfpipe. While the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix is the first Olympic halfpipe qualifying event of this season, the U.S. snowboard team has been training hard leading up to it. The team is heading into this competition fresh from a month in Saas Fee, Switzerland, followed by a ten-day training camp in Kitzsteinhorn, Austria.
U.S. Snowboard Team Halfpipe Coach JJ Thomas had this to say after the first day of training, “We’re pretty tuned up right now. The pipe here at Copper opened just in time for training, but not any earlier. That works for our team because they’re all polished up. They’re feeling pretty confident today and it shows in their snowboarding. They look great. The whole team is ripping so hard.”
“I’m feeling good,” says 2018 Olympian Taylor Gold. “We’ve had some really good training, so I feel strong and comfortable and ready to go.”
Keep an eye on the U.S. Team vets including three-time Olympic Gold Medalist Shaun White looking to compete in his fifth Olympics, X Games medalist’s Toby Miller and Taylor Gold who can lean into years of experience and skill, as well as young guns like Joey Okesson, Lucas Foster, Zoe Kalapos, Sonora Alba and Tessa Maud.
The international field includes top ranked riders including Japanese team riders Yuto Totsuka, Ruka Hirano and Raibu Katayama, Switzerland’s Jan Sherrer in the men’s field; with China’s Xuetong Cai and Jiayu Liu, Spain’s Queralt Castellet and Japan’s Mitsuki Ono to keep an eye on.
The level is through the roof right now in halfpipe snowboarding, it’s going to be an absolute battle to make it into finals. Expect to see riders attempting to one-up the field with a whole new level of tricks. Will we see the triple cork variations unleashed in this competition?
Snowboard qualifiers kick off on Thursday, Dec. 9th with finals on Saturday, Dec. 11th here at Copper Mountain, Colorado.
U.S Snowboard Men’s Starts
U.S Snowboard Women’s Starts
The U.S. Freeski Team is stacked with 30 athletes slated to compete in the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix. The team has been putting in the work heading into this event. They completed three-weeks of training at Saas Fee, followed by a ten-day camp in Kaprun, Austria.
Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist David Wise is definitely one to watch as he looks ahead to his qualifying for his third Olympic Games. And Olympic Bronze Medalist Brita Sigourney is in a great position going into this event following her third-place podium finish at the 2021 U.S. Grand Prix at Aspen.
Halfpipe Champion Aaron Blunck comes into the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix following a first-place finish at the 2021 U.S. Grand Prix at Aspen, Colorado, also looking to qualify for his third Olympic Games. “Training was great,” says Blunck, who we caught up with after the first day of training. “Copper put some serious work in—they showed up, they put on, big shout out to all of them. It’s going to be a great week. The pipe is in great shape and I’m feeling really good, I’m just excited to be on snow and am thankful for every day I get to ski.”
The international field includes some heavy hitters to watch out for including Eileen Gu, competing for China, England’s Zoe Atkin, Canada’s Noah Bowman, New Zealand’s Nico Porteous and many more.
The freeski competition kicks off with qualifiers on Wednesday, Dec. 8th, followed by finals on Friday, Dec. 10th.
U.S. Freeski Men’s Starts
U.S. Freeski Women’s Starts
Jenna “Jay” Riccomini
HOW TO WATCH
All times EDT
Friday, Dec. 10, 2021
2:30 p.m. FIS Freeski World Cup Toyota U.S. Grand Prix Halfpipe - LIVE, Copper Mountain, CO, Streaming Peacock, Broadcast NBCSN
Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021
2:00 p.m. FIS Snowboard World Cup Toyota U.S. Grand Prix Halfpipe - LIVE, Copper Mountain, CO, Broadcast NBCSN
2:00 p.m. FIS Snowboard World Cup Toyota U.S. Grand Prix Halfpipe - LIVE, Copper Mountain, CO, Streaming Peacock
5:00 p.m. FIS Freeski World Cup Toyota U.S. Grand Prix Halfpipe - next-day broadcast, Copper Mountain, CO, Broadcast NBC
Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021
1:00 p.m. FIS Freeski World Cup Toyota U.S. Grand Prix Halfpipe - next-day broadcast, Copper Mountain, CO, Broadcast NBC