Blunck Defends FIS Freeski World Championship Halfpipe Title
Aaron Blunck (Crested Butte, Colo.) defended the FIS World Freeski Championship halfpipe title he won in 2017 in Sierra Nevada, Spain, at the 2019 FIS Snowboard, Freestyle and Freeski World Championships, presented by Toyota, at Park City Mountain, Utah. U.S. Ski & Snowboard teammate Brita Sigourney (Carmel, Calif.) added to the U.S. team’s victorious day, earning the bronze medal in a competition stacked with amplitude and progressive skiing.
“Feeling so good man, I’m definitely on cloud nine right now,” said Blunck straight after this title-winning run. “X Games didn’t really go my way so I just wanted to come out here and redeem myself. It just so happens that we got to ski quite a bit of pow before the competition and I think that was the recipe for success. I was happy, I was having fun the whole time. I came out here for finals today and it was game on and I was ready to go. The Park City crowd is so good. I consider the World Champs one of the biggest events of the year, so having everyone come out definitely made the event a great experience. I want to say thanks to everyone for coming out, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you guys.”
Sigourney earned herself a spot on the World Championship podium with consistent amplitude and the smooth style which has put her on the podium throughout her career.
“I feel so good,” said Sigourney. “I was happy I was able to put down two solid runs. I wasn’t loving the pipe at the beginning of the week, but it was really good today and running super fast. I was happy I was able to show my strong suits and go as big as possible. It was just fun out there. It’s always good to see everyone else pushing themselves and also pushing me. Some of my tricks felt pretty lofty and I was happy to keep trying to scare myself more and more!”
Topping off the podium for the women was Estonian phenom Kelly Sildaru. On her third and final run, she put it all together to claim the gold medal by completing a world’s first in women’s competitive halfpipe skiing - landing a switch-1080 on her last hit. This is the first ever World Championship medal in snowboard, freestyle or freeski for Estonia.
“I wasn’t sure if I should do it because it was my first switch 1080 in competition,” said Sildaru. “I was considering doing the same run I did on my second run, but do it better and go higher. Then I thought to myself, why don’t I just try? I did it somehow and l’m still shaking. It feels unbelieve to be the World Champion.”
Cassie Sharpe of Canada finished second for the women with a strong performance. For the men, Kevin Rolland of France finished second and Noah Bowman of Canada closed out the podium in third.
“I feel great,” said Rolland. “This is the best pipe ever in Park City. Every year we come here and it is the best pipe of the season. When we have a good shape in the pipe, the crowd will see the best quality competition.“
An amazing halfpipe and a very supportive crowd filling Park City Mountain, the 2019 FIS Freeski Halfpipe World Championships was a competition to remember.