Martinod and Wise seal the deal in Copper
Copper Mountain (USA) - The second competition of the 2017/18 FIS Ski halfpipe World Cup season went down at Copper Mountain resort on Friday, with France’s Marie Martinod and the USA’s own David Wise walking away with big victories under perfect, sunny Colorado skies in a mint Copper pipe.
The ladies’ final at Copper was a stacked affair for the US squad, with the host nation occupying fully five of the eight finals spots available on Friday. However, despite this strong showing through qualifiers, the US would walk away with only one ladies’ podium spot, as the veteran Martinod in first and newcomer Zhang Kexin (CHN) in third would bookend second-place finisher Devin Logan by the day’s end.
At 33-years-old Martinod is one of the most veteran competitors in the youth-focused world of freeskiing, yet somehow the Sochi 2014 bronze medalist seems to be getting stronger every season.
After taking the halfpipe crystal globe in an dominant start-to-finish campaign last year, Martinod opened this season strong with a third-place result at Cardrona (NZL) back in September, before stepping it up on Friday at Copper with one of the most impressive runs we’ve seen her put down in competition. With huge amplitude throughout her run, Martinod stomped her signature left and right-side flairs, a perfect left-side 900 tindy, and a last-hit left 720 (which she nearly turned into a 1080 on her final run) to earn a score of 83.00 and leave no doubt as to who the top female pipe rider in the world is right now.
Though Martinod won the competition, she had other things on her mind following the awards ceremony, as her thoughts were with her teammate Benoit Valentin who fell and injured his knee earlier in the day.
“I feel strange right now, because Ben, my best friend in the team, just fell. I felt super happy for my run and then in one second I feel super sad for Ben. We’re a whole team (the French halfpipe squad) with a history together, and when you lose (to injury) a person that you live with and train with it’s really hard. So yeah, the yellow bib, I’m really happy for that, but it’s two different feelings right now.”
Logan’s podium run was as solid as they come, with clean landings throughout and a switch alley-oop flat five on her final hit that was likely the deciding factor on the first-run score of 79.60 that would decide her second-place result.
Perhaps the most notable performance of the day on Friday belonged to Zhang, as the 15-year-old exhibited a combination of amplitude, style, and skill set beyond her years to earn a score of 77.60 and her first career podium in just her fourth World Cup competition.
Wise elevates his game in first competition of Olympic season
After a difficult 2016/17 World Cup season in which he didn’t finish higher than eighth in four competitions entered, Sochi 2014 Olympic gold medalist Wise looked absolutely back on top of his game in his first competition of 2017/18 at Copper. Exhibiting all of the trademark technical proficiency that made him a podium lock from the day he broke onto the World Cup scene in 2009, Wise’s complex trick arsenal on Friday - combined with an explosiveness that has not always been one of his fortes - gave him his first World Cup victory since he last did it almost exactly three years ago, also at Copper.
With an absolutely through-the-roof opening combo of switch right-side double 1080 safety into a left double 1260 mute and a perfect final hit right double 1260 mute, Wise’s first run score of 92.80 would prove untouchable on the day.
“I’m over the moon right now,” Wise said from the bottom of the pipe after the competition, clearly stoked, “My goal for this contest was just to land some runs. I’ve been working on the switch right dub for a long time now and I wanted to come in and land it. As soon as I landed it in my first run I was on autopilot. And then being on the top of the podium at the end of the day is just a bonus."
“Pipe skiing is so ridiculous right now. So many guys are shredding so hard, so many new things are happening, so many unique takes on the pipe. It’s not just doing the same run and seeing who can do it better - there’s so much variety and it’s so enjoyable to be a part of. It’s a huge honour," echoed Wise after the competion.
Second place on Friday went to Canada’s Noah Bowman, a widely-respected technical skier whose runs seem too often to translate into a spot in the finals but not a place on the podium.
However, Bowman, like Wise, seemed to find an extra gear in his amplitude setting on Friday which, combined with a mid-run alley-oop switch left-side flat 900 safety that was easily one of the highlight tricks of the afternoon, put him back on the World Cup podium for the first time in nearly four years, strengthening his case for a spot on the Canadian Olympic halfpipe team in the process.
Behind Bowman in third place was his compatriot Simon D’Artois, giving the 25-year-old his second podium of the 2017/18 season (after a third also in Cardrona) and, with a fourth place finish on the day for Bowman and D’Artois’ teammate Mike Riddle, giving the Canadian squad an extremely promising day as the halfpipe World Cup moves into the final weeks before the start of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
From Copper Mountain, the FIS Ski halfpipe World Cup moves on to China’s Secret Garden resort on December 20-22, where the athletes on hand will become some of the first in the world to test drive the venue that will play host to their sport at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games.