U.S. Grand Prix halfpipe competition set for Dec 5-8 at Copper Mountain | AspenTimes.com

U.S. Grand Prix halfpipe competition set for Dec 5-8 at Copper Mountain

Summit Daily staff report

Scotty James, of Australia, competes in the halfpipe qualifier during the U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain on Dec. 7, 2017.

From Dec. 5 through Dec. 8, the world’s best halfpipe freeskiers and snowboarders will descend on Copper Mountain Resort for the 2018 Toyota U.S. Grand Prix halfpipe ski and snowboard competition.

Since 2008, the Grand Prix at Copper has welcomed the world and traditionally served as the season opener for FIS World Cup freeski and snowboard halfpipe competition in the northern hemisphere. Halfpipe athletes consider Copper Mountain as a staple on their early season competition tour.

“It has become a routine to start the season off in Copper,” Olympic gold medalist David Wise said. “But that is not something that we take for granted. It is a privilege to be able to start the season off and get our momentum going on home soil in a state-of-the-art superpipe.”

CELEBRATING A DECADE

The Copper Mountain Resort Grand Prix partnership is one that is incredibly important to U.S. Ski & Snowboard. By creating a world-class venue for freeski and snowboard halfpipe competition in early December, athletes are able to train and launch their competition season in an environment that fosters progression and a high level of competition. This is a testament to the hard work and dedication of everyone at Copper Mountain.

“This year is a milestone for the Copper and U.S. Grand Prix partnership as we’ve been collaborating and working together for a decade,” said U.S. Ski & Snowboard event director Nick Alexakos. “In those 10 years, we have included Olympic qualifiers and FIS World Cups in both halfpipe and big air, the Paul Mitchell Progression Sessions and witnessed both freeskiing and snowboarding develop to the insane level they’re at today. If the past is any representation, we all have a lot to look forward to this December.”

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Jesse True, interim president and general manager of Copper Mountain, also believes this year’s event will be something special.

“Copper continues to pride itself on being the premier resort for progression and with the earliest superpipe opening in the country,” True said. “We’re thrilled to welcome home Olympians Chloe Kim, Arielle Gold and David Wise for the annual Toyota U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain. It’s a privilege to be one of the first U.S. ski areas to showcase world-class competition in halfpipe freeskiing and snowboarding especially coming off the legendary Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.”

In addition to Kim, Gold and Wise, returning Olympic halfpipe medalists include freeskiers Maddie Bowman and Brita Sigourney.

SUCCESSFUL TRAINING

The U.S. Freeski and Snowboard Halfpipe Teams are coming off of a successful training camp in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, and are getting ready to take advantage of their time at Copper in the superpipe.

“Favorable early season snow is making for excellent pipe building in anticipation of the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix,” said Woodward Copper terrain park and progression manager Noah Schwander. “The 22-foot high, 68-foot wide superpipe, positioned front and center of Copper’s base area offers spectators easy access to watch some of the world’s elite freeskiers and snowboarders.”

In snowboarding, look out for Kim and Maddie Mastro coming out of camp as the only two women competing right now who have landed frontside double corks on snow. For the men, Toby Miller is coming in hungry after successfully linking a front double cork 1260 to back double cork 1260 in Switzerland. Miller had more on his to-do list for Saas-Fee, but Mother Nature forced him to hold off until Copper. This should make for an exciting debut for World Cup halfpipe competition this season.

“My number one goal heading to the Saas-Fee camp was to link two tricks together that I learned last spring,” Miller said. “I was able to accomplish that and I can’t wait to add them to my run at the Grand Prix.”

Joining the athletes at Copper Mountain is a new addition to U.S. Ski & Snowboard coaching staff — Sochi Olympic halfpipe silver medalist and now U.S. Freeski Halfpipe Pro Team coach Mike Riddle. As a former athlete, Riddle offers an interesting perspective on early season competition.

“I’m really excited to be coaching the U.S. squad heading into the 2018-2019 competition circuit,” Riddle said. “The Grand Prix in Copper always sets the tone for the season. It’s the event where everyone gets to see what all the other athletes have been working on all summer and see where you stack up against the competition. As a coach, my role will be to help the athletes get up to speed on their runs as quickly as possible and make the transition into comp season as seamless as possible.”

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