Blunck First, Sigourney Third at U.S. Grand Prix Halfpipe
Aaron Blunck and Brita Sigourney led the U.S. Freeski team in first and third respectively in halfpipe on the final day of the 25th anniversary Land Rover U.S. Grand Prix World Cup at Buttermilk in Aspen, Colo.
Sunday’s Grand Prix was the first Olympic tryout event for athletes vying for their chance to make the U.S. Team for the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games.
Adversity has been no stranger to Blunck this season, especially Sunday, battling varied spring conditions and taking a brutal slam on his first run. In true Blunck fashion, the two-time World Champion dominated the stage with his third run, floating five double cork hits to secure the top spot. Blunck was joined on the podium by Canada’s Brendan Mackay in second and New Zealand’s Nico Porteous in third.
“After my first run fall, I needed to completely regroup and remember that, honestly, I wasn’t supposed to be skiing until this month,” said Blunck, who is rebounding after a bone-crushing crash during training camp last October in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. “I reminded myself to be grateful. After that, I knew my second run wasn’t the best run. So third run, I knew what I had to do. I knew that I had to land. And I honestly couldn’t be more stoked that I landed my third and final run and came out on top.”
Teammate David Wise finished in fourth among a talented field of riders. The two-time Olympic gold medalist made his presence known on his first run landing a switch right 1080 and back-to-back double cork 1260’s to raise the energy level in what was a slow start to the competition.
Birk Irving, who earned World Championships bronze last week, also made a strong appearance finishing in fifth-place after styling a consistent switch 1080 on his first hit to a double flat spin. Aspen local Alex Ferreira took sixth, Lyman Currier seventh, Hunter Hess 10th, and Aspen local Tristan Feinberg took 11th competing in his first World Cup final.
“I am super hyped to be in my first finals,” said Feinberg.” I am a little bummed that I couldn’t put down my run due to speed, but happy to be here. I’m looking forward to the next one and am hungry as ever. I am happy with my performance in qualifiers and super happy that I am here. It’s surreal.”
In the women’s finals, two-time Olympic medalist and halfpipe veteran Sigourney finessed all three runs which included her signature alley-oop mute grab and an off-axis 720. Teammate Devin Logan also completed three consistent runs to earn fifth. Sigourney shared the podium with Canada’s Rachael Karker in first place and Great Britain’s Zoe Atkin in second place. Karker’s win marks her first-ever World Cup victory.
“Obviously, there is a lot of pressure going into this event knowing it’s an Olympic qualifier,” said Sigourney. “I am just really happy to put down three runs to have improved each time. I am stoked to walk away with third place. I think we’re looking really solid (for the Beijing 2022 Olympics). There is a lot of progression happening right now, especially on that younger side.”
Men’s Freeski Halfpipe
Women’s Freeski Halfpipe
HOW TO WATCH
All times EST
Monday, March 22
3:30 p.m. Land Rover U.S. Grand Prix Freeski Slopestyle - delayed broadcast, Aspen, Colo., Broadcast NBCSN
5:00 p.m. Land Rover U.S. Grand Prix Snowboard Slopestyle - delayed broadcast, Aspen, Colo., Broadcast NBCSN
Tuesday, March 23
3:00 p.m. Land Rover U.S. Grand Prix Freeski Halfpipe - delayed broadcast, Aspen, Colo., Broadcast NBCSN
4:30 p.m. Land Rover U.S. Grand Prix Snowboard Halfpipe - delayed broadcast, Aspen, Colo., Broadcast NBCSN
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