Sigourney and Smaine lead the double US podium sweep in Mammoth
Mammoth Mountain (USA) - The final halfpipe World Cup competition before the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games took place on Friday at Mammoth Mountain, where US riders swept both the ladies’ and men’s podium on home soil and Brita Sigourney and Kyle Smaine took big victories in front of the home crowd.
Following two days of challenging conditions that forced major changes in the slopestyle competition program, the weather improved just in time to let the halfpipe skiers get up and get down in Mammoth’s prestine 22-foot tall superpipe for the ultimate stop of the the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix tour.
For the first time in the history of Mammoth’s Grand Prix events the halfpipe competition were held under the lights, creating an additional ‘wow’ factor to go along with the huge airs and big spins the US fans came to see in California’s premier ski resort. And with as many as fifteen US riders in the finals, there were more than enough reasons for the local crowd to stoked on the action.
And indeed Friday’s halfpipe night event was all about the US Freeski Team athletes and their quest to make the Olympic team, with most of other leading nations of halfpipe skiing deciding to sit out the Mammoth competition and prepare for the Games at home.
But with so many great athletes on hand all eager to make a final push and represent the US colours in a few weeks’ time in Korea, the anticipation was high even before the riders dropped in and threw down some of the best pipe runs we’ve seen in a long time.
Sigorney grabs her first World Cup victory since 2013
After finishing second last week in Snowmass (USA), Brita Sigurney stepped her game up big-time on Friday, going for some big airs to kick off her run and following those up with a very impressive combination of left and right, regular and alley-oop spins, with a highlight left-side 900 tail that is probably one of the biggest one you’ll witness in the ladies’ field.
Sigourney stomped all of her three runs with a high-score of 91.20 points as she claimed her first World Cup victory since her first-place podium finish at Copper Mountain back in December 2013. Not only did Sigourney make a return to the top of the podium, she also clinched her spot on the US Olympic team and took the lead in the halfpipe World Cup standing.
“It was a long day sitting and waiting for the halfpipe finals to happen,” said Sigourney after the competition, “Trainings didn’t really go well for me and I was definitely starting to feel the pressure. I had to put it all aside and I did it. I’m super happy I landed all of my runs and pulled it off in the finals, and I’m so stoked I’m going to the Olympics for the second time.”
Second place on the day went to top qualifier Maddie Bowman, with Devin Logan finishing the competition in third. Similarly to Sigourney, Bowman and Logan also both secured their spots for the Games, building the foundations for a pretty fearsome 1-2-3 punch for the US Team in PyeongChang.
Smaine coming in hot to surprise the favourites
Over on the men’s side it was Kreischberg 2015 world champion Kyle Smaine coming away with a thrilling win, taking an unexpected victory and outscoring the favourites battling for a spot on the US Olympic team. Smaine impressed with the amplitude on his last run, going huge hit-by-hit, while also steezing it with some fresh grabs such as a screaming seamen mute on his switch left-side 720 or a seatbelt japan on his right-side 900. Add to the mix two doubles and a right-side 1080 and it all adds up to the winning run on the day.
"I just wanted to go out and do my run," said Smaine following the awards ceremony. "I’ve been working towards this run and haven’t put it all together yet this year. I didn’t care that it was the last run or what the score ended up being. I was skiing for me tonight and I’m beyond stoked that I ended up winning."
Current World Cup leader Alex Ferreira finished the competition in Mammoth in second spot, with Torrin Yater-Wallace rounding out the podium in third. With their podiums, both Ferreira and Yater-Wallace clinched their spots on the US Olympic team to join David Wise, who has already secured his placed for Korea with his first-place finish last week in Snowmass.
“It’s really a pleasure confirming my Olympic spot,” commented Yater-Wallace. “It’s been a tough year for me, still dealing with my foot injury from last year. We had a tough but interesting competition here in Mammoth and I’m very happy to end up on podium today and head to Korea soon.”
The halfpipe World Cup now takes a break as everyone’s attention turns to the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games, before we return in March for the 2017/18 halfpipe World Cup season’s grand finale, slated to take place on March 21-22.