USA's Blunck and Sigourney claim victory in Copper Mtn halfpipe finals
COPPER MOUNTAIN, USA – A highly entertaining FIS Freestyle World Cup/Visa Grand Prix halfpipe event went down on Friday night in the snow and under the lights at Colorado, USA's Copper Mountain.
46 of the best men and 33 of the best ladies halfpipe skiers in the world duked it out in Thursday's qualification heats to get a chance to be one of the 12 guys and girls to get through to the finals and become one step closer to punching a ticket to compete in the debut of ski halfpipe competition at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic games.
At the end of the night, it was 17 year old phenom Aaron Blunck (USA) and slick 23 year old Brita Sigourney (USA) standing on top of the respective men's and ladies program, after out-dueling both their fellow skiers and the elements in a high-energy final against some stiff competition.
Blunck, skiing in front of family and friends in his home state of Colorado, was able to throw down the top run despite facing down a former world champion at the top of his game in Kevin Rolland (FRA), and a stylish halfpipe & slopestyle double-threat looking to represent his country in both events at the upcoming Olympics in Gus Kenworthy (USA). With his parents cheering him on from the sidelines, and in the face of a run by Kevin Rolland that Blunck himself described as “The craziest run I've ever seen in halfpipe to date,” the fresh-faced American was able to keep his cool and keep his speed in the snow-slowed pipe to prevail.
In the ladies' competition, the Californian Sigourney was able build on a so-so qualification round to ski her best in the finals. She stomped both her finals runs in the tough conditions, and even her lowest score would have been enough to take the win over countrywoman and leader of the race to make the US Olympic halfpipe team, Maddie Bowman. Bowman was followed up by pipe veteran Marie Martinod (FRA).
A couple of the biggest names in halfpipe skiing did not make an appearance in Friday's finals. On the ladies' side it was 2013 world champion and last year's halfpipe crystal globe winner for overall World Cup performance Virginie Faivre (SUI) who sat out the competition to rest and recharge before Sochi. For the men, it was the other 2013 halfpipe world champion, David Wise (USA) whose absence from the contest was most noticeable, as the powerhouse American was unable to put together a clean run in qualies and found himself in 24th position on Thursday.
With his win, Blunck has podiums in back-to-back World Cup events, and sits in 1st in both the halfpipe and the FIS Freestyle overall World Cup leaderboards.
Sigourney's victory comes in her first World Cup event of the season, but quickly moves her into 3rd place on the halfpipe leaderboard behind her teammates Devin Logan and Angeli Vanlaanen.
BLUNCK, Aaron (USA) - HIGHLIGHTS
WINNING RUN - Rightside double cork 1260, leftside 1080, switch rightside 720, alley-oop flatspin 540, rightside 1080
QUOTES - Words are not even flowing out of my mouth right now. I don’t even know what to say. Kevin Rolland threw the craziest run I’ve ever seen in halfpipe to date and Gus Kenworthy came out with some serious style. I can’t believe I was able to hang out on top of those competitors.
Having my parents here is a huge support for sure. They try to make it to every event they can and for them to be here for the time I won is huge. I can’t believe that they were here. I’m so happy.
SIGOURNEY, Brita (USA) – HIGHLIGHTS
WINNING RUN - Alley-oop Japan, leftside 900, alley-oop 540, leftside 540, rightside 540 and 720 tail
QUOTES - I’m so excited and so relieved. I know that January is going to be a huge month full of competitions and I was really hoping to relieve some of the stress there by getting these two out of the way and getting some good results under my belt. So I’m just happier than I could ever be right now.
Photos of the event can be found HERE
Full men's results can be found HERE
Full ladies' results can be found HERE
Men's video highlights can be found HERE (in most regions)
Ladies' video highlights can be found HERE (in most regions)