David Wise and Maddie Bowman each clinched nominations to the first-ever U.S. Freeskiing Olympic team Sunday with victories in the snowy halfpipe final at the U.S. Grand Prix at Breckenridge. Adverse weather forced officials to reschedule the halfpipe final twice, but the competition commenced Sunday despite heavy snow.
“I’m so happy we got the event off,” said Wise. “It’s never a good thing to take a qualifier and turn it into a final, so I think all the riders had that mentality. I’m just excited that everyone was able to get out and that a lot of good runs were landed despite the conditions.
“The pressure is off for me now,” he added. “I’m so stoked. I’m excited to go ski at Park City. Now the pressure is off I can work on my runs a little more and maybe work on some things I still need to hone in for Sochi.”
Between the men’s and women’s runs, the athletes helped the event staff clear snow off the halfpipe to ensure a fair competition.
In the men’s contest, Canadian Mike Riddle landed second with Frenchman Kevin Rolland snatching up the third podium spot from Simon Dumont.
An impressive roster of U.S. skiers made the 16-man final, including rookies Alex Ferreira, of Aspen, and Lyman Currier, of Boulder, who finished eighth and tenth, as well as Broby Leeds, from Vail, and Gus Kenworthy, of Telluride, in 14th and 15th.
Sunday’s final also marked the end of the FIS World Cup tour for halfpipe skiing. Aaron Blunck took second in the World Cup halfpipe overall standings based on cumulative points earned throughout the tour. Canadian Justin Dorey claimed the FIS World Cup halfpipe title and the crystal globe while teammate Mike Riddle finished third.
Bowman bound for Sochi
Maddie Bowman, of South Lake Tahoe, also clinched a nomination to the first-ever U.S. Freeskiing Olympic team Sunday with a win in the halfpipe final in Breckenridge. Heavy snow was a factor in the pipe as Bowman, Ayana Onozuka of Japan and Aussie Amy Sheehan laid down the top runs of the day.
Americans Brita Sigourney and Annalisa Drew finished just shy of the podium in fourth and fifth, respectively, putting Bowman in an unbeatable position in the qualification standings.
Sunday’s final also marked the end of the FIS World Cup tour for halfpipe skiing, and Devin Logan was named the FIS World Cup halfpipe champion and awarded the crystal globe for her winning the most FIS halfpipe points throughout the tour. Bowman earned the silver in the FIS World Cup overall halfpipe standings with Amy Sheehan taking bronze.
“I wish everyone had better conditions and we could really see the full potential of everyone, but I’m definitely stoked and I don’t think it’s hit me yet,” said Bowman. “I’ve never been in this position, it’s our first Olympics, but it’s pretty exciting. I’ve just been trying to take each competition day by day, not looking at the big ‘O,’ but now that I know I get to compete there so I’m pretty excited.”
On Friday the slopestyle skiing finals were cancelled due to the challenging weather, and the qualifier scores counted as the finals. The Visa U.S. Freeskiing Grand Prix Olympic qualifying series next heads to Park City Jan. 17-18 for the final two qualification events.