French freeskiers top men’s, women’s podiums at 2017 U.S. Grand Prix pipe finals (photos)
- Kevin Rolland (FRA) — 94.20
- Benoit Valentin (FRA) — 92.40
- Aaron Blunck (USA) — 87.00
- Byron Wells (NZL) — 82.20
- Birk Irving (USA) — 80.00
- Miguel Porteous (NZL) — 79.60
- Alex Ferreira (USA) — 74.60
- Joel Gisler (SUI) — 65.40
- David Wise (USA) — 48.80
- Gus Kenworthy (USA) — 22.80
- Marie Martinod (FRA) — 88.60
- Annalisa Drew (USA) — 85.80
- Devin Logan (USA) — 83.20
- Ayana Onozuka (JPN) — 80.40
- Janina Kuzma (NZL) — 78.60
- Carly Margulies (USA) — 78.20
- Saori Suzuki (JPN) — 74.60
- Sabrina Cakmakli (GER) — 68.20
COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colo. — Kevin Rolland has done it again.
In single-digit temperatures on Saturday morning, the French Olympian and defending X Games halfpipe champ had the best sequence of the day on his third (and final) run to score a 94.20 at the 2017 U.S. Grand Prix freeski halfpipe finals.
Like Rolland, just about everyone struggled on the first two runs, held before 10 a.m. in Arctic air with spotty sunlight. Only second-place finisher Benoit Valentin of France (92.40) and fourth-place finisher Byron Wells of New Zealand (82.20) had clean runs the first time through. American Aaron Blunck of Vail sneaked into the third-place spot with 87.00 on his final run, breaking up the international podium.
Missing from top-three action were Blunck’s fellow Team USA superstars, David Wise and Gus Kenworthy. Neither of the veteran Olympians scored higher than a 50 in the 10-man finals.
Women’s freeski finals
Veteran French freeskier Marie Martinod took a cue from her male teammates and blew away the women’s field in the halfpipe finals, scoring a lofty 88.60 to take first place overall ahead of an American duo, Annalisa Drew in second with 85.80 and Devin Logan in third with 83.20.
Martinod came away with a clean and confident win — the 32-year-old Sochi halfpipe silver medalist was by far the oldest and most experienced skier at finals — but Drew claimed the comeback of the morning. After a spotty first and second run, the 23-year-old Olympic vet nailed her third and final run to jump ahead of Logan by less than three points.
All and all the women looked more prepared than the men for the frigid finals. Just about everyone landed at least one clean run, with the lowest score of the day coming in at 68.20 from German skier Sabrina Cakmakli. Just 10 points separated American Carly Margulies in sixth place from Martinod in first, and everyone in the top-three had a mix of high-level tricks: inverted 720s, inverted 900s and the occasional 1080s. If this is how the ladies begin the competition season, image what spectators have in store come X Games from Jan. 26-29.
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