The Halfpipe World Cup season gets underway in Cardrona
Cardrona (NZL) - The action at 2017 Audi quattro Winter Games NZ continues as the first FIS Freeski Halfpipe World Cup of the season is set to take place in Cardrona Alpine Resort with the world’s best riders ready to turn into the home stretch of the 'Road to PyeongChang’.
A few days after the slopestyle competition took place, it's time for the halfpipe riders to impress the judges and wow the fans along the Cardrona superpipe.
And with some of the world's finest going to drop in, there is a lot to expect from the season's first competition, which is slated to take place on August 31 (qualifiers) and September 1 (finals).
Among favourites for the win count on Marie Martinod and Kevin Rolland as the French duo ruled the pipe in 2016/17, capturing respective ladies’ and men’s crystal globes. It was the second for Martinod and the third for Rolland, and, his second in a row.
Martinod’s overall win was remarkable not least of which was the fact that it came fully 13 years after the last time she won her last overall title.
A known veteran, Martinod has had a remarkable career resurgence leading up to this past season’s triumph. After stepping back from competition following the win of her first globe in 2004 to become a mother, Martinod returned to the pipe ahead of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, where she would go on to claim the silver medal. With the PyeongChang 2018 on the horizon Martinod will certainly try her best to keep the momentum going and battle for top spots also in 2017/18.
Rolland’s victory on the other hand came with a clutch third-place finish at the final competition of the season that gave him the globe by just five points over his countryman and great friend Benoit Valentine. After a spectacular podium sweep in Cardrona back in 2015, the French squad will be once again looking to make a statement early in the season.
Going further down the starting list let’s not forget about the 2017 halfpipe World Champions from Sierra Nevada - Ayana Onozuka (JPN) and Aaron Blunck (USA) who as regular contenders are both ready to step in for their countries.
Then in the ladies’ event also watch out for Maddie Bowman (USA), Annalisa Drew (USA), Cassie Sharpe (CAN), Janina Kuzma (NZL) as well as Kelly Sildaru (EST) following her last weekend’s perfect FIS Freeski World Cup debut in the slopestyle competition where she claimed gold.
On men's side of things some of the riders to keep an eye on - besides the ones already named - are Mike Riddle (CAN), Brendan Mackay (CAN), Noah Bowman (CAN), Birk Irving (USA) and the young New Zealand team led by Beau-James Wells and Porteous brothers, Nico and Miguel.
Live-scoring for Thursday's halfpipe qualifications will be available here:
TV BROADCAST - HALFPIPE FINALS
ESTONIA - KANAL 12 - live at 2:00 CET
KOREA - SBS
ITALY - RAI SPORT - delayed at 06:55 CET
NEW ZEALAND - DUKE - live at 11:00 local time
USA - NBC - streaming on nbcsport.com