Cumming comes through in the clutch | SummitDaily.com

Cumming comes through in the clutch

ADAM BOFFEYSummit Daily News

Summit Daily/Eric Drummond

COPPER MOUNTAIN – It’s a good thing for Jess Cumming the U.S. Freeskiing Open adopted a new finals format for this year’s event.If the competition was still comprised of only two runs, the Copper Mountain skier would probably be out $2,500 and the most important gold medal of her budding career.”The three runs definitely helped me,” said Cumming, who took fourth at last weekend’s Winter X Games in Aspen. “I didn’t really land anything until the third run.”The Eagle County resident excelled in the go-big-or-go-home round by pulling an alley-oop mute grab, a mute 5 to a safety grab straight air and a cork 7 with a safety grab.The strong routine, which earned a score of 80.5 points, was made possible by Cumming’s top-notch mental game.”In the past, I might have gotten more stressed in the contest,” she said. “I was focusing more on what my whole run was instead of just stepping back. …. I’m trying to be more fluid and go bigger – it’s what I’ve been doing for a while, but now I finally have it super dialed in.”Cumming, who was joined on the podium by Mirjam Jaeger (78.25) and Roz Groenwood (76), called Sunday’s victory her biggest to date.”I can’t really describe it,” she said. “It hasn’t really sunk in. I’ve taken third in the past and it’s pretty surreal to be sitting on top.”A sad note accompanied the women’s finals when Jaeger injured herself on the third run and had to be transported down the mountain in a ski patrol toboggan.Jaeger, who took second at the X Games, faltered ever so slightly on her final hit of the day, but it was enough to tweak her knee.The injury was almost ironic, considering previous falls in the competition that were more pronounced (or gnarly), proved to be inconsequential as far as pain.”I do notice that,” Groenwood said when asked if extensive injuries tend to result from seemingly innocuous accidents. “I’ve seen it throughout the years and it’s a really, really strange phenomenon. … I have no real explanation for it.”Groenwood, who took second in last year’s Open superpipe competition, was also ailing.”To tell you the truth, this is the most pain I’ve ever skied in,” the Canadian said. “I took a really bad fall in slopestyle (on Friday). My whole back is spasming a bit and that’s how I got my black eye. … I did think about skipping this, but now I’m really glad I just stepped it up and did it.”Like Cumming, Groenwood profited from the three-run format.”It was the first time in my career that I landed two runs in a competition,” she said. “I usually just land one and go (for broke) on the second run.”Sunday’s finals featured plenty of carnage overall, which Vail’s Claudia Bouvier offered an explanation for.”Girls were charging today,” said Bouvier, who took third in Friday’s slopestyle competition. “That’s what happens when you’re trying to push up the level. We all know we need to step it up a little bit and when you try to step it up, you fall.”Adam Boffey can be contacted at (970) 668-4634, or at aboffey@summitdaily.com.