Tignes halfpipe World Cup to close out 2015/16 FIS Freestyle season
Tignes, FRA - After 34 events spread across four continents and 13 countries, the FIS Freestyle Skiing World Cup will head to Tignes, France, this week for the final event of the 2015/16 season, with halfpipe competition slated to wrap up the winter this Thursday.
For the second season in a row, FIS Freestyle will partner with the SFR Freestyle Tour for the Tignes event, and based on last year’s precedent we can expect another perfectly cut pipe, a huge crowd for finals under the lights, and a collection of some of the very best men’s and ladies’ halfpipe skiers in the world on hand looking to close out a highly-entertaining 2015/16 World Cup season on a high note.
The number one story on the ladies’ side will be the performance of Devin Logan (USA). Logan, who just last weekend closed out the World Cup slopestyle season with a fifth-place performance in Silvaplana (SUI) to end the season ranked seventh on the slopestyle leaderboard, currently sits in second on the halfpipe standings, just 20 points back of leader Ayana Onozuka (JPN).
While the crystal globe for top halfpipe performer on the season is very much in reach for Logan, perhaps more important than this is the possibility that Logan could make history this season by capturing the Freestyle overall crystal globe.
2014/15 Tignes World Cup recap video
While the great Kari Traa (NOR) won the Freestyle overall globe in an incredible 2003/04 season in which she competed in moguls, ski cross, and halfpipe competition, this season Logan is on the cusp of becoming the first FIS Freestyle World Cup athlete to claim the overall award without competing in moguls, aerials, or ski cross competition.
With just one point separating Logan and ski cross athlete Anna Holmlund (SWE), Logan needs only to complete a qualification run in Tignes to pass the Swede and take home the biggest trophy in World Cup skiing.
Behind Onozuka (240 points) and Logan (220 points) on the ladies’ leaderboard but theoretically within reach of top spot are Janina Kuzma (NZL) and Maddie Bowman (USA), with 185 and 145 points respectively. Onozuka, however, has been the picture of consistency in recent years, and with podiums in three-of-three events this season and eight-straight podiums dating back to the 2013/14 campaign, the 27-year-old will be tough to catch in Tignes.
On the men’s side, 19-year-old Aaron Blunck (USA) currently holds top spot on the standings, and comes into Tignes on the heels of a performance in Park City (USA) in which he stomped the best run of his young career on his way to an exciting victory.
However, Blunck, sitting on 200 points for 2015/16, is going to be in tough against a pair of French skiers who will be pushing hard to for top spot on Thursday night and top spot on the season in front of a boisterous home crowd.
Both Kevin Rolland and Ben Valentin are hot on Blunck’s heels heading into the final event, with Rolland just four points back, at 196, and Valentin not far behind with 185.
The starting list is chock-full of hot names in pipe skiing. Apart from the all the title contenders mentioned above, the US team has brought some significant help for Blunck this year. The gold medalist from Sochi David Wise, the multiple medalist from X-Games Torin Yater-Wallace, and the World Champion from Kreischberg Kyle Smaine are all there to compete in the last World Cup competition of the season. Let's also not forget about Alex Ferreira (USA), who finished third last year, as well as Joffrey Pollet-Villard (FRA) and Byron Wells (NZL) who should be always considered a serious threat for the place on the podium.
On the ladies' side it's good to have an eye on the experienced Virginie Faivre (SUI) and Marie Martinod (FRA), who both know very well how it feels to stand on top of the podium and obviously will do their best to upset the favorites and finish the season with a strong performance.