Hirano, Cai win at US Grand Prix; Summit’s Gold beats White for 5th | SummitDaily.com

Hirano, Cai win at US Grand Prix; Summit’s Gold beats White for 5th

Taylor Gold ends his run during snowboard qualifiers 2021 Toyota U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain Resort Thursday, Dec. 9.
Mike Dawsy/U.S. Freeski & Snowboard

The final day of the 2021 Toyota US Grand Prix on Saturday, Dec. 11, featured the snowboard halfpipe finals at Copper Mountain Resort with bluebird skies. The weather was drastically different from the swirling snowstorm the day before for the freeski halfpipe finals.

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

The men’s halfpipe finals had three Americans, including three-time Olympic gold medalist Shaun White, Summit County talent Taylor Gold and Idaho’s Chase Josey.

White, the veteran of the competition, started his first run of the day with a frontside double cork, getting major amplitude, while finishing with a tomahawk, double backside 1260. White looked pleased with his first run of the day as he received a moderate score of 75.50.

Gold went next, taking the first wall and over rotating on his first attempt of a trick to land hard in the middle of the pipe. Gold laid down for a short moment while fans at the base held their breath, but Gold was able to leave the competition area on his own power, ready to return for his next run.

Josey put together a frontside double cork 10 and a switch backside 900 on his first run of the day in order to score 71.25. The score placed him in fourth after the first round.

Both Gold and Josey were set on putting together runs that would move them up the standings in the second round as they drastically improved their scores.

Gold, after taking a hard fall on his first run, executed on a McTwist and a frontside 1260. Gold erupted with the fans at the bottom of the super pipe as he received a 87 to catapult him into fourth place.

Josey did a solid series of tricks including a frontside double cork 1080, a switchback 10, a double truck and a frontside 10 during his second run to improve his score to a 85.25, moving him into fifth place. Gold and Josey bumped White off the podium as he failed to improve his first score of 75.50.

The second round also saw impressive improvements from Yuto Totsuka and Ayumu Hirano of Japan, as they recorded scores of 87.25 and 87.75, respectively, to join fellow teammate Ruka Hirano in the top three.

Heading into the third and final round of runs, the Americans would need to go bigger and better in order to disrupt the achievements of the Japanese snowboarders.

White landed heel heavy on the first wall, causing him to fall on his final run. White finished in eighth place.

Gold went big on his final run of the day, performing a McTwist on the first superpipe wall and then a 1200 tailgrab to only fall down while trying to land his third trick. Gold finished with a top score of 87 from his second run, placing in fifth at the end.

Josey nailed a frontside double cork 1080, but also fell while trying to perform his second trick. He ended with a top score of 85.25 to finish in sixth.

The trio of Japanese snowboarders that made up the podium positions after the second round were disrupted by Jan Scherrer of Switzerland. Scherrer executed a massive final run that scored him an 88.50.

Sherrer finished behind Hirano, who held onto his first score of the day at 89.25 to capture the 2021 Toyota U.S. Grand Prix title. Totsuka rounded out the podium by finishing in third.

American athletes were absent in the women’s snowboarding competition, but the competition was still full of electric performances.

Xuetong Cai of China was able to perform well on her last run of the day with a big backside 540 in order to take over the top spot in the competition with a score of 80.50.

Sena Tomita of Japan took second after scoring 76 on her first run. Four-time Olympian Queralt Castellet from Spain rounded out the podium in third, scoring a 70.50 on her last run to just squeak by.

Ski and snowboarding talent will return to Copper Mountain Resort next week for the Winter Dew Tour, which runs from Thursday, Dec. 16, through Sunday, Dec. 19.

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