The Visa U.S. Freeskiing Grand Prix was in full force today on the slopes of Copper, Colorado. Friday's halfpipe competition was the first domestic stop for the athletes to gain Olympic qualifying points and AFP Platinum level event points. Competitors had to overcome falling snow and heavy winds on the Rocky Mountain slopes. American Maddie Bowman defied the adverse weather conditions to take first place in Friday's event. Bowman was followed by Canada's Roz Groenewoud in second and teammate Brita Sigourney in third. On the men's side, Canadian Mike Riddle captured first place with sixteen year old American rookie Aaron Blunck in second, and teammate David Wise in third.
Bowman wrapped up her first place finish thanks to a winning run that included a right 900 into a left 540 mute-grab, straight air with safety grab, left 900 to right 720 and switch 540.
After the win she said, “I am really happy! My right 900 is a new trick, I learned it last year and I used it for the first time at the Dew Tour and so far it is working out for me. It is an exciting time for our sport right now with the Olympics and the competition is stiff- I mean look at Brita [Sigourney]. But I love competing with her and Roz [Groenwoud] and it's fun. I am glad to be here and get this season started right.”
Sigourney earned her third place finish with a 900 to ally-oop to 540 to right 540 to 720.
She spoke about preparing for the event, explaining, “Training was rough, it was super snowy and I really didn’t put down any good runs, actually I really didn’t put down a full run, my first run I did a butt-check on my ally-oop 540. The second run the sun decided to come out; it was still a little windy and hard to carry your speed. I simplified a little bit and took out the ally-oop 5 and did an ally-oop and it worked out for me.”
Blunck managed to throw down one of the best performances of his young career to take second place. This is only the
third FIS World Cup since his first World Cup start in 2011.
The 16 year-old was beyond excited to be on the podium. After the race he said, “I woke up this morning and was just pumped to be in the finals and I was not expecting this! It turned out so well. It was a tough competition, but everyone was in the same boat and I was able to pull it off. I am so happy right now. Guys were landing low in the pipe and it was a definitely a game over situation if that happened. You really had to have a perfect stance to pull off runs today.”
David Wise skiied conservatively in the volitle conditions, earning his third place victory with a right side 900 to double cork 1260 followed by switch 720.
Wise discussed how the conditions affected his run, saying, “I was having a perfect run for my first run I was excited and I caught a snow snake and went down. It’s part of the game. I put extra pressure on myself for my second run and had to scale back a bit- you scale back and that’s what puts you in third place. I still had a great day and I am very happy to be here to get my Olympic qualifying points started.”
The weekend at Copper will be televised on both NBC and the NBC Sports Network. Viewers can catch today's events starting at 11:20am Saturday, January 11th. Saturday will see a slopestyle skiing final start at 1:00pm MT.
VISA U.S. FREESKIING GRAND PRIX SCHEDULE
Fri. Jan. 11 – The North Face Junior Jam, 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. MT
Sat. Jan. 12 – Visa U.S. Freeskiing Grand Prix slopestyle skiing finals, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. MT
BROADCAST SCHEDULE (times ET)
Sat. Jan. 11 11:20 a.m. -1:00 p.m. – Visa U.S. Freeskiing Grand Prix live stream, halfpipe, USSA Network
Sat. Jan. 12 4:00-5:00 p.m. – Visa U.S. Freeskiing Grand Prix, halfpipe, NBC
Sat. Jan. 12 1:00-2:00 p.m. – Visa U.S. Freeskiing Grand Prix, halfpipe, NBC Sports Network
Sat. Jan. 19 2:00-3:00 p.m. –Visa U.S. Freeskiing Grand Prix, slopestyle, NBC Sports Network