Aspen’s Ferreira captures title at US Grand Prix; Sigourney and Irving finish in 4th

Alex Ferreira, of the United States, makes a run on the halfpipe Wednesday, Dec. 8, during a U.S. Grand Prix freestyle skiing qualifying event at Copper Mountain Resort. He won the event Friday, Dec. 10.
Hugh Carey/The Associated Press

Friday’s competition at the U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain Resort brought the finals for the freeski halfpipe event.

The competition featured five American men and two American women as they vied for a spot atop the awards podium, earning points toward being named to the 2022 U.S. Olympic team.

The freeski finals competition consisted of a three-run format where the highest of an individual’s three runs are counted into the final score.

Starting off the competition was Basalt native Hanna Faulhaber and 2018 Olympic bronze medalist Brita Sigourney.

Faulhaber on her first run of the day came out wanting to jump high, gaining speed to get some major amplitude and ending her run with a crisp 900.

Faulhaber received a 84.75 for her first run, which put her in first place for a short amount of time before former teammate Sigourney outdid her with her first run of the day. Sigourney put together a few 900s and a 720 to combine amplitude and technique to receive a 87 on her first run.

Faulhaber took a spill on her second run of the day after some over-rotation to receive a score of 21.25. Sigourney, who sat in fourth place at the time, also did not have an ideal run as she only scored a 70.75 and had to rely on her third and final run of the day to get onto the elusive awards podium.

Faulhaber did what she could to improve her score in her final run putting together a huge tailgrab, a 720 and a 900. Unfortunately, the 17-year-old came up just short as she improved her score to a 86.25 for fifth.

Sigourney continued to execute on her go-to 720s, but only came away with a 75.25, meaning her top score of the day was 87 from her first run, which was good enough to hold on for fourth, just missing the podium.

Eileen Gu of China took home the freeski title with a best score of 90.5. Rachael Karker of Canada and Kelly Sildaru of Estonia flanked Gu on each side of the awards podium in second and third.

Hanna Faulhaber, of Basalt, makes a run during halfpipe qualifying Wednesday, Dec. 8, during a U.S. Grand Prix freestyle skiing event at Copper Mountain Resort.
Hugh Carey/The Associated Press

Prior to the start of the men’s freeski competition, the competitors knew that big rotations would need to be thrown in order to get on the awards podium, and the competition delivered.

Aspen native and 2018 Olympic silver medalist Alex Ferreira stood apart on his first run, when he was able to execute on a series of double corks and a 1440 in the middle of the run. Ferreira finished his run celebrating by swinging his ski poles around his wrist to receive a 93.50.

Olympic two-time gold medalist David Wise was eager to match Ferreira who put together two double corks to combine for a 83.75 on his first run to move into sixth.

Winter Park native Birk Irving also got off to a hot start out of the gate scoring a 88.25 after a huge 1080 and a 1440. Aaron Blunck of Crested Butte fell on his first run of the day due to windy and snowy conditions to score 14.25, while Lyman Currier of Boulder scored a 79.75.

On the men’s second round of runs, none of the Americans improved their scores from their first runs.

Ferreira had the second highest score in the second round with an 85, sitting behind Canadian Brendan Mackay after he scored a 91.50 for his biggest run of the day.

In the final round of runs for the day in the men’s competition, Wise got lost in the air and fell for the second time in the competition as he was going for a humongous 1620. Wise was forced to finish with the score from his first run of the day, a 83.75, to finish in seventh.

On his last run Irving put together a series of jumps including a 1260 but it was not enough to top his first run of the day in which he scored 88.25. Irving would finish right outside the podium spot in fourth.

With Wise taking a spill on his final run, it was up to Ferreira to solidify his spot on the podium. Ferreira combined a 1620 into a 1440 and finished with a 1260 on the final wall, but without a tail grab, he wasn’t able to score higher than his 93.50, leaving the fate of the U.S. Grand Prix title up to New Zealander Nico Porteous.

Porteous, who had scored a top score of 92.25 on his first run, needed to top Ferreira’s 93.5 in order to win, but after the first superpipe wall, Porteous dipped out to ski down the middle of the rest of the halfpipe not wanting to risk his body for a score, meaning Ferreira was crowned men’s freeeski halfpipe champion to the eruption of the Copper Mountain Resort crowd.

Porteous and Mackay rounded out the podium spots in second and third. Americans Currier and Blunck finished in seventh and 10th.

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