U.S. Qualifies 10 Freeskiers to U.S. Grand Prix Finals
The Toyota U.S. Grand Prix FIS World Cup halfpipe competition season kicked off at Copper Mountain in great fashion with stellar performances from U.S. Ski & Snowboard athletes. U.S. Pro Team member Brita Sigourney (Carmel, Calif.) qualified in third-place. For the men, Aaron Blunck (Crested Butte, Colo.) and PyeongChang Olympic silver medalist Alex Ferreira (Aspen, Colo.) led the way in heat one, finishing first and second respectively.
Sigourney was pleasantly surprised by her performance. “I felt surprisingly better than I expected after two short training sessions,” she said. “I didn’t have the highest expectations, but I am just happy to have landed my runs. The pipe was running a bit faster than it has been so I was able to carry my amplitude and accomplish what I wanted to. Moving into finals I plan on removing the straight air from my run and continuing to go big and keep it stylish.”
“It’s been a fun offseason just hanging, so I’m happy to be back on snow and shredding with the boys,” said Blunck, who was extremely happy to be back on snow following the long 2017-18 Olympic season. “After the Olympics, I took a step back and realized I wanted to ski for myself and have some fun and I feel like I did that today.”
Ferreira was also trying to have fun during Wednesday’s competition but had his eyes set on the finals. “My goal today was simply to just make it to finals,” said Ferreira. “It’s the first contest of the year, so I’m just trying to enjoy my time here with the other athletes and ski well.”
U.S Pro Team member Devin Logan (West Dover, Vt.) finished fifth, followed by her teammates Annalisa Drew (Andover, Mass.) in sixth and Sochi Gold medalist Maddie Bowman (S. Lake Tahoe, Calif.) in eighth. Sigourney, Logan, Drew and Bowman will all move on to Friday’s finals competition.
For the men, Taylor Seaton (Avon, Colo.) closed off heat one in fifth place to make it into the final. In heat two, U.S. Pro team member Birk Irving (Winter Park, Colo.) finished third, U.S. Rookie Team member Hunter Hess (Bend, Ore.) finished fourth and double-Olympic gold medalist David Wise (Reno, Nev.) finished fifth, just squeaking his way into the finals start list.
“Today did not go according to plan, but that’s a good thing for the first competition of the season,” said Wise. “When you get too confident, you sort of check out and that’s not what I want to do. I want to stay lit, stay feisty, and what I noticed in the qualifier is there are a bunch of young guys that are gunning for me. I have to keep progressing and that’s why I love this sport in the first place.”
On the other hand, Irving set out to meet a goal and did so in style. “I finally got to put a new trick into my run that I worked on at Saas Fee Training camp this fall, which is a switch left double cork 1080 on the first hit," he said. "I worked with Coach Andrew Woods and Mike Jankowski to get that dialed.”
There were great performances all around for the first FIS Freeski World Cup halfpipe competition of the season. U.S. Snowboard Team members including Olympic gold medalist Chloe Kim (Torrence, Calif.) will face off against an impressive international field in Thursday’s snowboard halfpipe qualifications.
4:30 p.m. - U.S. Grand Prix halfpipe, Copper Mountain - NBC - Next-day broadcast
12:30 p.m. - U.S. Grand Prix halfpipe, Copper Mountain - NBC - Next-day broadcast
*Subject to change
Dec. 6: 8:30 a.m - 3:30 p.m (MST) - Snowboard Qualifications
Dec. 7: 11:00 a.m. - 12:40 p.m. (MST) - Freeski Finals
Dec. 8: 11:00 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. (MST) - Snowboard Finals