Gerard wins again in slopestyle competition of Day 3 at US Grand Prix
Competition resumed Saturday, Jan. 8, at the 2022 Toyota U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain after strong winds postponed all of the events set for Friday, Jan. 7. The day got started with the finals of the men’s and women’s freeski halfpipe, which were originally scheduled to take place Friday night.
Women’s freeski halfpipe
The women’s freeski halfpipe competition had four Americans among the 10-women field, including Basalt local Hanna Faulhaber and Winter Park native Svea Irving.
Faulhaber had a solid first run, going big on the halfpipe wall to score 87. Irving scored score of 81 on her first run.
However, the competition continued to outdo each other in the highly contested final, as Eileen Gu of China catapulted herself to the top of the pack with a 94.74 on her first run.
Gu had the top score in the qualifiers, and she wasn’t outdone in the second round of runs. Instead, Gu performed a victory-lap run in order to improve her score to a 97.50 and win her fifth-straight freeski halfpipe title of the season.
Kelly Sildaru of Estonia placed second after scoring a 92.50 on her final run of the day, while American Olympic bronze medalist Brita Sigourney claimed the last podium spot in third with a 87.75.
Faulhaber followed Sigourney in fourth, narrowly improving her first run score to a 87.25. Irving finished in 10th, unable to improve her score.
Men’s freeski halfpipe
The men’s freeski halfpipe finals was supposed to feature six Americans, but Louisville native Lyman Currier was not able to compete due to a fall in qualifiers.
Two-time Olympic gold medalist David Wise had the competition he has been striving toward all season. Wise scored a huge 95.25 on his first run of the day to immediately send him toward the top ranks of the competition.
Reigning halfpipe world champion Nico Porteous of New Zealand scored higher than Wise — however, with a near-perfect run scoring a 97 to win.
Wise held on for second place, while Crested Butte native Aaron Blunck finished in third after a first run where he scored a 93.75. Birk Irving from Winter Park finished in fourth with a top score of 90.75.
Men’s snowboard slopestyle
The men’s snowboard slopestyle final featured three Summit County locals in Red Gerard, Chris Corning and Kyle Mack.
Gerard and Corning are recently coming off finishing first and second, respectively, at the Winter Dew Tour back in December while the 2022 U.S. Grand Prix was Mack’s first competition of the season.
Gerard — who is locked in to represent the U.S. in his second Olympic Games — fell on his first run of the day while trying to perform a 1620. Gerard scored a 43, meaning he needed to go big on his final run if he wanted to have a chance for the podium.
Mack and Corning would also rely on their second and final runs in order to move up in the rankings as they scored 53.15 and 66.88, respectively, on their first. Mack landed too hard on his final run and was not able to improve his score, finishing in 11th place.
Corning didn’t start his final run for undisclosed reasons to finish in eighth place.
For his last run, Gerard put on display why he is the reigning Olympic gold medalist and seasoned veteran in the event. Gerard executed back-to-back 1620s, with the second being a switch backside, to score a 82.88 and win the competition.
Niek van der Velden of the Netherlands finished in second, and Tiarn Collins of New Zealand finished third.
Men’s snowboard halfpipe
The men’s snowboard halfpipe qualifiers only featured Summit’s Chase Blackwell, as Taylor Gold deiced to not compete after placing second at the Winter Dew Tour a few weeks ago.
Blackwell was not able to put a solid run together on either of his two qualifying runs, scoring a 20.66 on his first and failing to advance to the finals.
Americans Shaun White, Joey Okesson,and Lucas Foster all advanced to the 12-man final held in the late Saturday night.
White sealed his spot in the finals by scoring a 79.33 on his first run of the day, but he did not do his second run in qualifiers nor did he start in the final. It was later reported that White went down hard while on a training run and decided to not compete in the rest of the competition.
Telluride native Foster was the first man to take to the halfpipe finals, but he fell while attempting a trick to only score 17.60 points. Foster later executed a clean final run to drastically improve his score to a 69.40 and place fifth in the final.
Okesson scored 57.40 on his first run by combining a backside 900 and a backside 1260. After the first round of runs Okesson was ranked third behind Japan’s Ruka Hirano and Kaishu Hirano.
Okesson tried to go big on his final run but ended up losing his footing. He finished in seventh place.
In the end it was Ayumu Hirano that topped the competition with a breathtaking second run to get a score of 95.80 from the judges.
Ayumu Hirano was followed by his brother Ruka Hirano at 93.40 points. Germany’s Andre Hoeflich rounded out the podium in third with a top run score of 90.
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