Aspen’s Hudak finally claims top spot at Copper |

Aspen’s Hudak finally claims top spot at Copper

Bryce Evans
Summit County correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Mountain Sports InternationalAspen's Jen Hudak, center, takes the top spot on the podium Saturday at the U.S. Open finals at Copper Mountain. Anais Caradeux of France, right, finished in second and local Copper skier Jess Cumming, left, was third.

COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colo. ” Jen Hudak called the U.S. Freeskiing Open her “nemesis.”

After being a regular on the podium when the event was held in Vail, the Aspen skier simply hasn’t been able to figure out how to win at Copper Mountain, where the U.S. Open has been the past three years.

“It’s hard to pinpoint a reason,” she said of her recent struggles. ” … Last year, I came in skiing super well … but I had issues and fell on every run, and we do three runs.”

Well, whatever Hudak’s problem had been, she seemed to put it behind her Saturday in the U.S. Open finals on Copper’s Main Vein superpipe.

Hudak put together a run that included three different 540s and ended with a 720 safety grab to score an 87.4 and win the 2009 title.

“I’m super stoked to be on top of the podium,” Hudak said after the win.

Last year’s winner and local Copper skier Jess Cumming came in third place. Cumming was the second-to-last skier to finish and the final woman with a shot to take the title away from Hudak.

“It was nice at the top, because I knew that I was going to be at least third,” Cumming said of her final run. “It’s always nice to know you’re going to be on the podium.

“I just knew I could go for it and have fun.”

Her final score of 81.2 put her 0.8 points behind second-place finisher Anais Caradeux of La Clusaz, France.

Caradeux netted her best score in her first run before taking a hard fall on her second time down the pipe. The crash left her sore and unwilling to take any risks on her third and final run that may have helped her move up to the top spot.

None the less, she was pleased with her finish.

“I think I’m going to have a big bruise on my elbow and my hip,” Caradeux said with a laugh, “but (second place) makes it feel better.”

Vail’s Claudia Bouvier finished in sixth place, while Jenny Lee of Steamboat and Copper’s Charity Merserau ended up seventh and ninth, respectively.

Hudak’s win helped her add even more momentum as she heads to the Freeskiing World Championships in Japan.

“I’m very happy with my season, so far,” she said. “Two wins and two second places ” it’s been good.”

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