Fagan brothers qualify to Mammoth Grand Prix slopestyle finals
Summit locals Hoerter, Blackwell, Gold, Wolle qualify to halfpipe finals
FRISCO — A bevy of Summit County freeskiers and snowboarders excelled at Wednesday and Thursday’s qualifying rounds for the Land Rover U.S. Grand Prix World Cup event at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area in California. But it was the skiing of Frisco’s Fagan brothers that led to maybe the most exciting development.
For the first time in their young careers, 18-year-old twin brothers Deven and Kiernan Fagan qualified through together to a World Cup final. Competing in separate qualifying heats Wednesday, Deven qualified in fourth place in his heat with a score of 84.50 while Kiernan qualified with a score of 80.75, seventh in his heat.
Fresh off of a gold and silver medal at the Youth Olympics earlier this month, Kiernan waited eagerly in the main lodge at Mammoth to see if Deven would join him through to the final.
“I’m almost more nervous when he goes than when I go,” Kiernan said. “I can control what I do. I don’t know if he’s going to lace up or not.”
Deven did just that, earning that fourth-best score in his heat by landing a run that included a 270-degree rotation onto Mammoth’s distinct rainbow rail before he executed a pretzel (spin out of the rail the opposite direction of the way you entered) 270 off the rail.
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On the jumps portion of the course, Deven did a double-cork (two inversions) 1080 with a mute grab on the side-hit quarter-pipe jump that was the start of the jumps section. Deven then did an unnatural double-cork 1260 with a mute grab and a switch (skiing backward) double-cork 1260 with a blunt grab on the final two jumps to earn his place in Friday’s final.
Landing the run was huge for Deven, as he had messed up on one of the rails on his first run, needing the second run to make it through and go celebrate with Kiernan in the lodge.
“I came in, and we were both super hyped we both made it together,” Deven said. “This is the first time we’ve been in World Cup finals together, so I’m definitely most happy on that. It’s going to be sick for us to both be in finals. I hope we can both put it down (Friday) together.”
Kiernan landed a run much the same as Deven, sans a 360-degree rotation on the final jump due to slow speed. Kiernan said he expects he and Deven to step up their runs for Friday’s final, where they’ll be joined by American stars like multi-time Olympic medalist Nick Goepper (93.75), 2019 X Games Aspen slopestyle gold medalist Alex Hall and this year’s X Games Aspen slopestyle and knuckle huck gold medalist Colby Stevenson, among other international stars.
“It’s definitely awesome competing against all of these guys I’ve looked up to my whole life,” Deven said.
Friday’s men’s freeski final is scheduled for 10:30 a.m.
Men’s snowboard halfpipe
A Summit County contingent punched its tickets on Wednesday to Friday’s men’s snowboard halfpipe finals in Mammoth.
Behind top qualifiers Chase Josey of Idaho (87.60) and Yuto Totsuka of Japan (85.60), Steamboat Springs native and Breckenridge resident Taylor Gold was the top Summit County qualifier Wednesday, with a score of 84.60. Gold will be joined in Friday’s final by Longmont native and Dillon resident Chase Blackwell (77.00), Ryan Wachendorfer of Vail (76.20), and Winter Park native and Frisco resident Jason Wolle (69.20).
American teen star Toby Miller did not compete due to an illness, but the fact that the American crew — four from Colorado and three from Summit — still got half of the finalist spots meant a lot to the tight-knit crew, Blackwell said.
“It was just super sick,” Blackwell said. “I was super stoked to see Jason get in there, squeak in there in the 10th spot, super hyped for him. And when Ryan laced his second run, I knew he’d get in there. He put two good runs down.”
In the wake of his first X Games Aspen appearance last week, the 20-year-old Blackwell had the nerves of dropping in first in the Mammoth pipe he said was fast in the morning before getting soft as the day progressed. To get through to the final, Blackwell put together a five-hit run through the pipe that included a frontside double-cork 1080, a cab 1080, a frontside 900, a backside 900 and a flat-spin frontside 1080. Friday’s Grand Prix final is scheduled for 2 p.m.
Men’s freeski halfpipe
In the men’s freeski halfpipe qualifier Thursday, Jaxin Hoerter of Breckenridge qualified through to Saturday’s final with a score of 81.40, joining his backcountry buddy Birk Irving of Winter Park, who topped qualifiers with a score of 91.00.
The High Country Colorado friend duo will be joined in Saturday’s final by Americans Taylor Seaton of Avon (88.40), Aaron Blunck of Crested Butte (82.20), Hunter Hess of Oregon (81.40), Lyman Currier of Boulder (86.60) and David Wise of Nevada (80.40).
Days after he bested Blunck to win back-to-back X Games Aspen freeski pipe gold medals in his hometown, Alex Ferreira did not compete at Mammoth. Saturday’s final is scheduled for 2 p.m.
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