Part tune-up for the pros heading into next week’s Dew Tour and part opportunity for aspiring half-pipe freeskiers to get a shot at the big time, The North Face Park and Pipe Open Series returned to Copper Mountain Resort Saturday.
“It’s good practice for next week,” three-time women’s X Games medalist and Olympic hopeful Devin Logan said. Returning to competition after a major knee injury, the former No. 1 ranked freeskier said she was feeling pretty good. Saturday was her second time back in competition after tearing her ACL and meniscus and suffering microfractures in her leg.
“I woke up this morning, still had some butterflies,” she said. “I’m feeling confident on my skis, excited to get the first qualifier (Dew Tour) out of the way.”
Logan took third in the qualifying round behind France’s Marie Martinod and Japan’s Ayana Onozuka.
“Today for her, qualifying was just doing tricks she knows how to do,” U.S. team coach Andy Woods said of Logan’s run, “but putting down a competition run before Dew Tour is always good.”
Americans Gus Kenworthy, Alex Ferreira and Evan Schwarts took the top spots on the men’s side. The finals Sunday will include the top 16 qualifiers from the men’s and women’s groups.
Logan’s U.S. teammate and fellow X Games medalist and Grand Prix half-pipe winner Maddie Bowman fell on her first run and opted out of the competition as a precaution. She reportedly suffered only minor injuries and will be ready for the Dew Tour next week.
Olympic contender Simon Dumont and a few other top U.S. team members decided to sit out the competition.
“We want them 100 percent healthy for the Dew Tour,” Woods said of the decision to rest some athletes.
For athletes not on the U.S. pro team, the half-pipe competition is the last shot to make the Dew Tour and Sprint U.S. Grand Prix — which this year are part of the qualification process for the U.S. Olympic team.
“There’s a lot of people competing for the last Grand Prix spot,” U.S. freesking team spokeswoman Haley Caruso said. “This year it could be anybody’s game. Some local kid could potentially qualify for the Olympics.”
“There’s a lot of eyes here obviously; all the national team coaches are here,” Woods said. “It definitely gives you a good opportunity to get your skiing seen by a lot of people that have some influence.”
The top finisher not already qualified for the Grand Prix will earn a spot in the series.
Competition resumes Sunday with the men’s and women’s finals. There will be an area at the bottom of the pipe open to spectators. The women will drop into the pipe first at 12:30 p.m. followed by the men at 1:30. The awards ceremony is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. at the Burning Stones Plaza.