Chase Blackwell, Jaxin Hoerter shine at Copper Mountain, China freeski and snowboard events
In places as far away as Secret Garden, China, and as near as Copper Mountain Resort, several elite Summit County athletes posted top-10 finishes at Rev Tour and World Cup events to round out the year.
U.S. pro team member and Dillon snowboarder Chase Blackwell finished on the podium at the first Toyota U.S. Revolution Tour Elite event of the season at Copper Mountain on Dec. 11. Blackwell finished in third place on the 22-foot Copper halfpipe with a score of 87.75 on his first run, behind event champion Yuto Totsuka of Japan (97.75) and second-place finisher Ikko Anai of Japan (91.50). Blackwell, 19, was the only American snowboarder of the day to advance to finals. The following day, Totsuka again won a second Rev Tour Elite halfpipe competition at Copper. Blackwell did not qualify for finals.
In the men’s freeski halfpipe event on Dec. 14, Breckenridge born-and-raised freeskier Jaxin Hoerter finished just off of the podium with a score of 84.00 on his second run. Hoerter, 18, was the third-highest finishing American of the day, behind winner Cassidy Jarrell (92.75) and third-place finisher Cameron Brodrick (85.00). The results from the Rev Tour snowboard and freeski events at Copper Mountain will count toward the 2018–19 North American Cup.
Then, just six days later half-a-world away at the 2022 Beijing Olympic venue in Secret Garden, China, Hoerter finished in ninth place in the second World Cup halfpipe event of the season, with a score of 70.50. Canada’s Simon D’Artois 93.50 bested second-place finisher Nico Porteous of New Zealand (89.50) and third-place finisher Hunter Hess of Oregon (85.50).
“Had a dope time here in China,” Hoerter said on his Instagram account. “Hyped to make finals and stomp my runs!”
The men’s World Cup snowboard halfpipe final at Secret Garden on Dec. 21 saw Blackwell finish in eighth place with a score of 68.25, the highest of any American in the competition. Swiss rider Jan Scherrer (95.50) won the event ahead of the Japanese duo of Ruka Hirano (92.50) and Yuto Totsuka (92.25).
That same day, the slopestyle venue that will host the 2022 Olympic slopestyle event in Secret Garden for the first time was tested out by a group of the world’s best riders. On the heels of Dew Tour at Breckenridge Ski Resort the week prior, local riders Chris Corning, Red Gerard and Kyle Mack all elected not to compete in the event. Japanese teen star Takeru Otsuka (87.10) won the event and currently leads the overall World Cup snowboard park and pipe standings ahead of second place Corning (2,600-2,090). The highest scoring Americans in the Secret Garden slopestyle event were Lyon Farrell of Hawaii (72.88) and Ryan Stassel of Alaska (72.71).
Speaking to local reporters in China, Stassel remarked on the creative layout of the Secret Garden slopestyle course, which featured a Great Wall of China-inspired rail feature.
“Being the first Olympic-standard slopestyle course in China, it rides really well,” Stassel said. “The Great Wall element lights up the fifth feature, which is a rail drop. It’s a pivotal part of the course so you have to be really focused to land, but it looks pretty cool flying over the walls.”
At the end of the year, Hoerter currently ranks 19th in the FIS World Cup freeski halfpipe standings. On the snowboard side, Blackwell ranks eighth in the halfpipe Nor-Am Cup and 11th in the halfpipe World Cup.
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