Basalt teen Hanna Faulhaber continues rapid rise up the skiing pipeline
Aspen’s Jarrell sixth in Calgary World Cup
The men’s halfpipe skiing World Cup season came to an end Friday night in Calgary, with Aspen’s Cassidy Jarrell finishing sixth in the final major contest of the winter. Jarrell, who did not complete his first two runs, scored a 83.60 on his final run to finish ahead of Avon’s Taylor Seaton, who was seventh with 82.00.
Taking the win was Telluride’s Gus Kenworthy, who now skis for Great Britain, who scored 93.20 to hold off Canada’s Brendan MacKay (91) and Winter Park’s Birk Irving (90.40). Just missing the podium was two-time reigning Olympic gold medalist David Wise of Nevada (89.80) and Canadian Noah Bowman (87.40).
Also competing in the final were Oregon’s Hunter Hess (eighth, 75.40), Norway’s Birk Ruud (ninth, 33) and Boulder’s Lyman Currier (10th, 19.80).
The wild ride continues for Hanna Faulhaber. In only her second season competing at the FIS level, the 15-year-old sophomore at Basalt High School is building quite the resume as a halfpipe skier.
“It’s been a great season,” Faulhaber said Wednesday. “The past two seasons have been such a fun time and super progressive. I don’t even know how to explain it.”
Faulhaber is set to compete Saturday in the Aspen Snowmass Freeskiing Open, a Nor-Am Cup competition that she took third in last winter behind Utah’s Jeanee Crane-Mauzy and Great Britain’s Zoe Atkin. Of course, she’s been in some much bigger competitions since then.
Faulhaber, who is on the U.S. rookie team, made her World Cup debut back in August, finishing 14th at the season-opening contest in New Zealand. Her second World Cup start came at the Copper Grand Prix in December, where she finished 15th.
Then she had somewhat of a breakthrough at the Mammoth Grand Prix, taking sixth in the Jan. 29 qualifier to make her first final in a World Cup. She finished seventh in the Feb. 1 final, a contest won by reigning Olympic gold medalist Cassie Sharpe.
“I honestly didn’t expect for such a great result at a World Cup this year,” Faulhaber said. “I don’t think my coaches even expected it, either. It was just a lot of fun to be able to make the final with all the older girls and be able to have that experience.”
The other highlight to her season came earlier in January when she was one of two American girls — the other being Steamboat’s Riley Jacobs — to compete at the Youth Olympic Games in Switzerland. Faulhaber won bronze, with China’s Eileen Gu taking gold and Fanghui Li silver.
“Youth Olympics was such a great experience, like I expected it to be,” Faulhaber said. “I don’t even know how to explain how great it was, especially being able to get bronze was amazing and I never really thought that would happen.”
Faulhaber sat out the final World Cup contest of the season, which wrapped up Friday night in Calgary. The 16-year-old Gu, who is from San Francisco but has dual citizenship and competes under the Chinese flag, held off Canada’s Rachael Karker and Russia’s Valeriya Demidova for the win. Demidova clinched the season-long crystal globe in women’s halfpipe skiing.
While Saturday’s Nor-Am here in Aspen is a slight step down from the World Cups for Faulhaber, her trajectory has her headed in a good direction. On top of more World Cups, bigger comps like X Games and Dew Tour are well within her reach next season. She was a Dew Tour alternate this winter.
Then, of course, there is the elephant in the room with the 2022 Winter Olympics fast approaching. There is a world championship to ponder in 2021, as well.
“She is starting to be competitive with a lot of those pro girls. My focus with her is far more about improving that run and specific tricks than really, is she going to qualify for the next Olympics?” said Greg Ruppel, who coaches Faulhaber through the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club. “It’s looking good. That alternate invite to Dew Tour is a good sign. Probably going forward she’ll be looking at at least alternate invites if not full invites for X and Dew next year.”
The women’s superpipe finals of the Aspen Snowmass Freeskiing Open are tentatively scheduled to start at 11:15 a.m. on the X Games venue at Buttermilk Ski Area. The men’s superpipe finals are slated for 1:45 p.m. with a handful of Roaring Fork Valley local athletes expected to compete in the noon qualifier.
The men’s and women’s big air finals also are scheduled for Saturday.
Spectating is free.
The slopestyle finals were held Friday, with Canadian teen Skye Clarke winning the women’s contest with a score of 79.50 points, holding off Pennsylvania’s Jenna Riccomini (73.33) and Canadian Megan Cressey (70.33). Clarke took home a $3,000 payday for the win.
In the men’s slopestyle contest Friday, Minnesota’s Richard Thomas, a U.S. rookie team member, won with a best score of 89.50 to take home the $5,000 paycheck. Montana’s Konnor Ralph was second (86.16) and Canada’s Dylan Deschamps was third (85.66).
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Dane Jackson and Hunter Katich took turns in the top spots at the GoPro Mountain Games freestyle kayaking competition on Saturday evening in Vail Village.