X Games halfpipe champ Kevin Rolland triumphs at U.S. Grand Prix freeski halfpipe finals
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 in 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.
Men’s snowboard finals
This is the definition of Canadian domination.
Like Jamie Anderson — the unstoppable women’s slopestyle champ — Canadian slope specialists Max Parrot and Sebastien Toutant stuck around Summit County after making the podium at Dew Tour last weekend for the U.S. Grand Prix men’s snowboard big air. Also like Anderson, the two were cheated out of the jump finals by bad weather at Dew Tour, and so they were itching to throw down on the Main Vein jump.
And throw down they did. The rider with the best two-run combined score after three runs would walk away with the win, and Parrot worked the field up, down and back again with massive switch 1260s and one of the most impressive triple 1440s in the game. That earned him a score of 97 on his second run, the highest of the day by far. Only Norwegian Markus Olimstad came close to breaking the 90-point barrier with a 92.25 on his first run, but he couldn’t match Parrot’s intensity and dropped to fifth overall after three runs. Parrot’s combined 188.75 was the highest of the day by more than 10 points.
Behind Parrot in second overall was Toutant, who consistently scored in the high 80s for a combined 176. Behind him in third was American Ryan Stassel with 167.50, while Breck local Eric Willett just couldn’t find his feet and scored a combined 95.75 for eighth overall in the 10-man final.
Women’s snowboard finals
Jamie Anderson just can’t be stopped.
Less than a week after Anderson won the women’s slopestyle crown at Dew Tour in Breckenridge, the California native and force of pure nature won another competition at the first-ever U.S. Grand Prix snowboard big air at Copper Mountain. And she didn’t even do it with the highest single-run score of the day.
Things started slow for Anderson. She flailed on her first run to drop behind Enni Rukajarvi of Finland and fellow American Julia Marino. The 19-year-old Marino had the best first-run hit with a massive, tweaked-out 1080 to score 84.75, and was only bested in the third and final run by Slovakian Klaudia Medlova with the highest score of the morning, a 91.00.
But Anderson was more consistent than the other three vying for gold. She returned in the second run to score a 72.25 with a 1080 of her own, only to see Marino botch the landing on her next hit for a ho-hum 52. Things were down to the wire with just one run remaining.
Anderson dropped in again for a cab 1080 and scored 79 — hardly the best score of the day, but enough to clinch the lead when it mattered with a combined 151.25. Rukajarvi was hot on her heels the entire time with scores of 76 and 71 for a combined 147 to land in second place, while Medlova’s impressive 91 for the final run was enough to bump her past Marino with a combined score of 146.50. Marino couldn’t recapture the magic of her first run and ended with scores of 84.75 and 52 for a combined 136.75.
Great Britain’s Katie Ormerod and Norway’s Kjersti Buaas didn’t start.
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