Aspen halfpipe skier Cassidy Jarrell readies for second year on big stage

Aspen's Cassidy Jarrell competes in the Thanksjibbing rail jam contest on Friday, Nov. 23, 2018, at Snowmass Ski Area. (Photo by Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times).
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

More than once last winter did Cassidy Jarrell find himself in over his head. But the Aspen halfpipe skier also had plenty of highs in what was his first full season competing at the highest level.

“It was pretty nerve-wracking, but also very exciting to reach the big stage,” Jarrell said. “I’m to a point where I’m excited. I’m part of the group now.”

Jarrell, 19, will embark on his second season competing in the bigger World Cup and Grand Prix events, opposed to the amateur-level Revolution Tour and Nor-Am Cup competitions.

His winter will get underway Wednesday at qualifying for the men’s ski halfpipe comp at the Copper Mountain Grand Prix. The finals are two days later.

It was at Copper last winter where Jarrell made his World Cup debut, taking 39th out of 40 athletes after a dismal qualifying round. Nevada’s David Wise, who is now the two-time reigning Olympic gold medalist, won last year’s competition at Copper Mountain.

Other Aspen locals such as Torin Yater-Wallace and Olympic silver medalist Alex Ferreira are not expected to compete at Copper, although Wise is slated to.

“I think it’s going to feel a lot different. A lot of the guys are taking it easy after the Olympics,” Jarrell said. “How everything was in the Rev Tour is shaping to how it all is in the Grand Prix and all the World Cups.”

Jarrell is the two-time USASA national champion and won the overall Rev Tour title this past winter. He feels his ability to handle the pressure at that level is finally carrying over to the bigger World Cup stage.

He had a strong finish to his 2017-18 season, finishing 12th in the Mammoth Grand Prix in January, his best World Cup finish. Only a few days earlier he finished 35th at the Snowmass Grand Prix, which was also a World Cup event.

“There is nothing like putting down a good run in the halfpipe, and especially at a World Cup like that,” Jarrell said of his run at Mammoth, which left him two spots short of making finals. “It wasn’t the cleanest run, so I think this year I’m going to step it up a little bit. I think I’ll have a finals run if I can land it each time.”

Qualifying for finals in a World Cup would be the next big step for Jarrell. He’ll compete in a handful of Rev Tour and Nor-Am events again this winter, but his focus is completely on the World Cup.

After Copper, the circuit heads to Secret Garden, China, for a competition Dec. 20-22. Jarrell plans to be there, and hopes to be less rusty than he will be at Copper.

“We are pretty much World Cup chasing all winter,” he said. “I went to New Zealand for a whole month and didn’t get to ski the halfpipe once. Last season I got to ski it every day for a month, so it’s a little different coming into this season not having skied a halfpipe. We’ll see. I got two days to figure out my run for the (Copper) Grand Prix. I got to say I’m a little more nervous than I should be.”