Chris Corning flies high into big air final; Gerard fails to match competitive field
Aspen’s Alex Ferreira looked to be in midseason form
Summit locals were at the forefront on the second day of the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix and Visa Big Air snowboarding and skiing competitions on Thursday, held at Copper Mountain Resort.
After Taylor Gold qualified Wednesday for the final in the men’s snowboard halfpipe competition, Summit’s Chris Corning, Red Gerard, Fynn Bullock-Womble and Kaitlyn Adams all attempted to punch their own tickets to Saturday’s final in the big air snowboard qualifiers.
Women’s Snowboard Big Air
Adams was the first Summit local to stare down the 70-foot jump at the women’s snowboard big air competition.
Adams, 17, had her first competition of the season last weekend at Edmonton’s Style Experience big air event, where she finished 13th and posted a best score of 22.50.
Adams — who is in the midst of her first season on the World Cup circuit — was not pleased with her performance in Edmonton, but she was hopeful ahead of the Visa Big Air competition on her home mountain.
“Edmonton was rough,” Adams said. “It was very slow, and you had to go dead straight if you wanted any chance of making the jump. It was rough, but definitely fun.”
During her journey to secure one of the eight qualifying spots to the final on Thursday, Adams faced athletes like two-time U.S. Olympians Julia Marino and Hailey Langland.
After having a less than ideal second day of training on Tuesday, Adams chose to start her competition with a trick she knew she could land.
On her first run of two, Adams executed on a frontside 540, which she landed without any major problems. The run earned Adams a score of 51.50, which was not enough for qualifying spot.
Forced to go bigger on her second run, Adams attempted to land a frontside 720, but she over rotated a bit too much. The over rotation caused Adams to slightly fall and score 15.50 to miss the final. Adams placed 15th overall.
“I had a really rough second practice day,” Adams said. “The first run was what I knew I could put down, and I felt pretty good about it. My second run, I tried to go (frontside) 720, and I just went too big to land it. It was still fun.”
Despite missing the final, Adams was pleased with how she competed against some of the best snowboarders in the world. Adams hopes to continue to go big and start to gravitate to the level of women like Langland and Marino.
“Seeing what (Marino and Langland) put down in this comp makes me realize that I gotta start throwing it down if I am going to compete in these competitions,” Adams said. “This shows me what I need to do and what I need to work on.”
Kokomo Murase of Japan secured the top qualifying spot with a score of 92.50 while Langland earned the second qualifying spot with a score of 88.75. Marino qualified in the sixth spot, and Courtney Rummel from Wisconsin snagged the eighth spot.
Men’s Snowboard Big Air
In the men’s snowboard big air qualifiers, a field of 55 men tried to be one of the top-10 riders to proceed to finals. Corning, Gerard and Bullock-Womble battled it out in the first heat of 28 men.
Corning — who competed at both the 2018 and 2022 Olympics — started his season with a second-place finish at Edmonton’s big air competition last weekend.
The second place finish in Edmonton seemed to give Corning confidence as he successfully landed a backside 1800 to the cheers of his fiance, friends, family and fans. Corning was rewarded for the huge jump with a score of 95, easily putting him at the forefront of the competition.
“Whenever my fiance can come out and support me, it is amazing,” Corning said. “I always enjoy it, and she is always happy to be able to come. We are always traveling around the world so she can only come to one or two events.”
The 1800 helped Corning maintain his spot in the top five, finishing second overall in the heat after scoring a 76.50 on his second run.
“I was super happy about it,” Corning said. “Coming into the day, I hadn’t done one backside spin on these jumps.”
Gerard tried to match the tricks of Corning and American Sean FitzSimons, but he landed wonky while trying to land a backside 1620 on his first run. With his back against the wall, Gerard cleaned up the trick on his second attempt.
Gerard scored an 83 to briefly move into the top five, but he was eventually bumped by his competitors. Gerard placed 13th overall.
Bullock-Womble, 17, fell on both of his runs to not advance to finals. Bullock-Womble had a top score of 16.75 and finished in 49th place.
Italy’s Ian Matteoli won the first heat with a score of 97.75.
“The first heats are always super competitive,” Corning said. “I don’t know if it is because we were the first ones to go on the jump that day or what. I am super happy to be a part of it and stoked to be next to these competitors.”
Norway’s Marcus Kleveland won the second heat with a score of 93 while Luke Winkelmann of North Carolina took second with a top run of 87.50.
Men’s Freeski Halfpipe
Three Americans advanced to the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix men’s freeski final with two of those athletes calling Colorado home.
Aspen’s Alex Ferreira looked to be in midseason form on both of his qualifying runs. Ferreira scored 77 on his first run and 84.75 on his second to finish third in the first heat and advance to the 10-man final on Saturday.
Proceeding Ferreira was Oregon’s Hunter Hess and Winter Park’s Birk Irving. Hess soared well above the rest of the competition. He received an 87.50 on his first run to place first in the heat.
Like Hess, Irving qualified for the final on his first run of the day when he strung together several tricks together to impress the judges. Irving scored 86.25 to finish second in heat one.
In the second heat, Finland’s Jon Sallinen had the highest score in qualifiers by recording a score of 91.50. Canada’s Noah Bowman and Brendan Mackay finished second and third respectively in the second heat to advance to the final.
Nevada’s David Wise failed to advance to finals alongside Crested Butte’s Aaron Blunck.
Women’s Freeski Halfpipe
The American women dominated in the women’s freeski halfpipe qualifiers. Out of the nine U.S. women in qualifiers, four will advance to the final on Saturday.
Seasoned veteran and three-time Olympian Brita Sigourney led the way for the Americans, recording a top run score of 85.25 to have the third highest score in qualifiers.
Sigourney was closely followed by Basalt local and 2022 Olympian Hanna Faulhaber. Faulhaber had a shaky second run, but she had a successful first to score 84.75 and finish in the fourth qualifying spot.
Carly Margulies, a 2022 Olympian from Mammoth Lakes, had a top run score of 82 to finish sixth in qualifiers while Winter Park’s Svea Irving placed eighth with a score of 61 to successfully advance to finals.
The women’s halfpipe qualifiers were won by Canada’s Rachael Karker with a score of 92. Estonia’s Kelly Sildaru placed second with a top run score of 88.25.
On Friday, Summit’s Taylor Gold will compete in the men’s snowboard halfpipe final. Competition is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. and is open to the public. The event will be broadcast live on OutsideTV.com.