Calgary halfpipe and moguls set to start 2014

02 January 2014 18:17
Xavier Bertoni (Photo - HIROYUKI SATO/SATTON PRESS)
Xavier Bertoni (Photo - HIROYUKI SATO/SATTON PRESS) -
FIS

CALGARY, CAN – The first dose of FIS Freestyle action in 2014 comes via a weekend of halfpipe and moguls competition from the Canada Olympic Park (COP) in Calgary, CAN.

Located just 15 minutes from downtown Calgary, COP was one of the key facilities for the Calgary 1988 Winter Olympic Games. Since then, it has gone on to become a unique home to both high profile, upper-echelon winter sports training and competition facilities and a recreational venue for the general public as well.

From the beginning of halfpipe training on December 31, 2013, to culmination of the moguls event on the afternoon of January 4, 2014, Calgary will be the centre of the FIS Freestyle world.

Here are some of the things to look for at each event...

HALFPIPE

The Calgary event will be the third World Cup halfpipe competition of the 2013-14 season, and the second-to-last event before the close of the Sochi 2014 qualification period on January 19.

The current men's World Cup leader is Aaron Blunck (USA), who leads a surprisingly international halfpipe top-10 list that includes skiers from Switzerland, Canada, Finland, New Zealand, and France. Blunck is coming off a strong performance in Copper Mountain, USA, that saw him square off against a top-level field in challenging, snowy conditions on his way to scoring a victory and guaranteeing himself a spot on the US Olympic team for Sochi.

Behind Blunck sits Antti-Jussi Kemppainen (FIN) and Alex Ferriera (USA), while the top Canadian at this point in the season is Justin Dorey, though 2012-13 halfpipe crystal globe winner Mike Riddle lurks just behind at 8th on the World Cup overall list.

On the ladies' side, it's halfpipe and slopestyle double-threat Devin Logan (USA) currently holding on to top spot on the World Cup power rankings. Logan won the first halfpipe event of the year in Cardrona, NZL, finished 4th just before the holiday break at the Copper Mountain event, and looks to be close to securing a spot in both Olympic halfpipe and slopestyle competitions on the US team.

Angeli Vanlannen and Copper Mountain winner Brita Sigourney round out the all-American World Cup top three. At number 20 overall, Megan Gunning is the lone Canadian representative on the World Cup points list thus far in 2013-14.

MOGULS

As this is only the second competition of the 2013-14 season for the athletes of the moguls World Cup tour, it may be seen as too early to be a making assessments of who looks to be in top form heading towards the Olympic qualification cut-off. However, when the results from December's Ruka, FIN, World Cup are compared to the historical trend, things in the world of moguls seem to be on a continuous trajectory.

Mikael Kingsbury (CAN) claimed victory at the Ruka event over teammate and rival Alex Bilodeau to continue on a path that has seen the 21 year old miss the podium only four times in 33 World Cup events going back two years. Kingsbury's torrid pace shows no signs of slowing down, and he is the unquestionable favourite in every event he enters right now.

Sho Endo (JPN) rounded out the Ruka top three.

For the ladies, the queen of the bumps continues to be Hannah Kearney (USA). Last year's moguls world champion and crystal globe winner came out firing again in Ruka, comfortably besting top challenger Justine Dufour-Lapointe (CAN) and legend Aiko Uemura (JPN) to start 2013-14 off the same way she finished 2012-13, with a victory. Like Kingsbury, Kearney has been nearly unstoppable on the World Cup circuit for several seasons, and looks to be primed to defend her Olympic title at Sochi in February.

Everything gets going from Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, CAN, with halfpipe qualifications beginning on Thursday.