Tignes halfpipe World Cup ends 2015/16 with a bang
Tignes, FRA - The final event of the 2015/16 FIS Freestyle Skiing World Cup season took to the perfect halfpipe of Tignes, France, on Thursday night, where French favourite Kevin Rolland and US star Maddie Bowman took the wins, Rolland and Ayana Onozuka (JPN) claimed the 2015/16 halfpipe crystal globes, and Devin Logan (USA) made history as the first halfpipe and/or slopestyle athlete (see: freeskier) to win the FIS Freestyle Skiing overall crystal globe.
The atmosphere under the lights at the Tignes halfpipe World Cup (presented in conjunction with the SFR Freestyle Tour) on Thursday night was electric, with a huge crowd on hand anticipating big things from the strong French halfpipe squad. And, with three French athletes on the podium and a French skier holding the men’s crystal globe by the end of the night, those fans would not leave disappointed.
BOWMAN, ONOZUKA, LOGAN ALL WINNERS IN TIGNES
Ladies’ competition saw Sochi 2014 Olympic champion and three-time X Games winner Maddie Bowman prove once again that she is perhaps the best high-pressure performer in the game, stomping all three of her runs on the evening and earning a 91.00 for the victory with a final run that included three different 900s, tons of amplitude, and solid grabbing throughout.
“It feels great to be here in France and ski in front of such an amazing crowd,” Bowman said of her second-straight World Cup win, “I’m stoked that we’re able to put up such a cool show for all the fans that gathered in Tignes tonight. I’m also very happy to finally finish the season healthy.”
Second on the day with 87.80 points was Annalisa Drew (USA) for her first career World Cup podium in her 20th start. Drew has perhaps the most-improved run of any of the athletes in the World Cup field this season, but small deficiencies in previous contests had kept her out of the top three. On Thursday, however, she was able to put it all together, with back-to-back 900s to start off her run and clean 1080 to finish it off.
87.00 points and third place for the ladies’ went to Marie Martinod (FRA), giving the gathered fans their first podium to celebrate in the competition and signifying the start of the near-riot that would ensue by the evening’s end.
While she didn’t podium on the evening, Ayana Onozuka put down a fourth-place performance that was more than enough to maintain her place on top of the World Cup standings and grant her her second-straight halfpipe crystal globe.
“Although I missed the podium today I was able to grab the globe again this year so I’m very happy to finish the season like that,” said Onozuka, “I’m going to work on some new rotations and grabs for the next season and hopefully I’ll be able to make it three in a row.”
Finally, in the biggest news of the evening on the ladies’ side, Devin Logan became the first halfpipe and/or slopestyle skier to win the coveted FIS Freestyle Skiing overall crystal globe as the top athlete across all five of the Freestyle events in 2015/16. As she has throughout her career, Logan competed in both halfpipe and slopestyle this season, finishing seventh-overall in slope and second to Onozuka in halfpipe. Her combined results on the season gave her an overall-adjusted score of 88.20 to handily top ski cross athlete Anna Holmlund’s 81.25 for the big prize.
"Being the first freeskier to win the overall World Cup globe feels pretty awesome,” Logan said of her history-making performance this season, “I’ve been working really hard doing both slopestyle and halfpipe events and I'm feeling like I'm going in the right direction and overall I'm in a good spot, so I'm really happy. Being the only female to compete in both slopestyle and halfpipe gets pretty rough during the season going back and forth between competitions but, again, I've been doing it for so long that I couldn't picture doing anything else.”
ROLLAND VICTORY SENDS CROWD INTO FRENZY
On the men’s side, Kevin Rolland skied like a man possessed, stepping up in an intense competition to throw down the biggest and baddest run to win both the contest and this season’s men’s halfpipe crystal globe, and sending the gathered French fans into hysterics in the process.
While Rolland only threw four tricks in his winning run - as opposed to the typical five seen in most men’s halfpipe runs - his combination of incredible amplitude (and distance), massive tricks (including back-to-back dub 1260s), and clean landings gave him the slightest edge over second-place finisher Lyman Currier (USA), with Rolland’s 95.80 just one point better than Currier’s 94.80.
With the win, Rolland was able to vault over Thursday’s sixth-place finisher Aaron Blunck (USA) for the globe.
“It’s a perfect ending of the season for me,” a joyful Rolland said as he held his trophy, “I have all my family and friends coming here to Tignes. It was my goal at the beginning of the season to take the globe and it was a big fight in this last competition. Everybody put down some good runs and it was a very good show overall, so I just couldn’t be more happy.”
Rolland’s globe now goes into a trophy case that also includes a 2009 world ski championships gold medal and a bronze from the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
Currier’s second-place finish was the first halfpipe podium of his career, and it came as a result of what was probably the best run of his life, including three straight double-corks to start things off.
“I’m so stoked,” said Currier, “That was a dream run for me. I was thinking about that run for three years now so it’s really cool that I’ve been able to put in the work to get here. Every year the pipe in Tignes is perfect. It has great vert on it so it’s a lot of fun to ride it and of course you can go huge. It’s definitely one of the best competition of the year. I just couldn’t be happier to end the season like this."
Third place on the day went to Benoit Valentin (FRA), whose score of 92.40 gave him his third podium of the season and put him into a tie with Blunck on the halfpipe standings, though he would end up third overall after a tie-break (best single-contest result on the season) gave Blunck the edge for second place.
“It feels super good to part of this,” said Valentin of the competition and his season, “I think that was the best competition we had this winter. Everyone skied very well so I’m just so happy to share the podium with Kevin (Rolland) again for the third time this season. I’m following him, and he’s still winning. He’s the best right now and I’m learning from him everyday and I hope that I will be the best soon.”