Bowman, Wise claim ski halfpipe titles
the associated press
PARK CITY, Utah – Halfpipe skier Maddie Bowman has won three gold medals in 23 days, capped by Saturday’s U.S. Grand Prix Championship at Park City Mountain Resort in which she was the only woman to do a pair of 900s.
Now she wants to up the ante with the Olympics a year away.
“I might go to Idaho this next week and learn some new tricks,” Bowman said of mastering an alley-oop 540.
“I did it into an air bag a couple of times, but I haven’t had the time to really work on it.”
Her ultimate goal is to win at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, where this freestyle event will be included for the first time.
She’ll get a preview at the next World Cup, which will be held in mid-February at the Russian resort town.
“Hopefully I’ll win again,” said Bowman, who captured the Grand Prix at Copper Mountain in Colorado on Jan. 11 and the X Games on Jan. 25.
She landed both 900s – spinning two and a half rotations – on her second run to win with a score of 85.2. Japan’s Ayana Onozuka was second with a score of 84.4 and Virginie Faivre of Switzerland took third at 82.8.
“I’m just trying to have fun and not put too much pressure on myself and see where it takes me. I felt pretty good (today),” Bowman said. ” I wish it would have been a little cleaner or bigger. I don’t know. I just wanted to do better.”
She said the sunny skies, warm weather and perfect conditions made everyone want to push themselves Saturday.
But the event was marred by a serious crash by Canadian Simon d’Artois, who smacked his head trying to land his first big trick then slid unconscious to the end of the halfpipe.
He was airlifted to a hospital in Salt Lake City and is expected to make a full recovery, according to a team spokeswoman. Though a CAT scan was normal, d’Artois was still experiencing nausea and other concussion symptoms.
Some skiers said the crash affected their game plans, and left them a bit shaken.
The halfpipe is the same one where Canadian freestyle pioneer Sarah Burke crashed last year while training and died a week later from her injuries.
“Personally, I don’t like to watch everybody’s run, it kind of scares me,” said Torin Yater-Wallace, who took second Saturday behind fellow American David Wise in the men’s event. “Obviously, when you see something like that, when somebody hits their head pretty hard, it’s pretty, like, mind-boggling, and makes you think. But then you have to go do your run and get into competitive mode.”
He said he changed his final run after seeing the fall.
Instead of doing left and right side 1080s he did a double instead and it worked out.
He was particularly pleased that he mastered the Park City pipe.
“This pipe is sick,” he said. “I’ve only ever competed on it one other time, two years ago at World Championships, and I didn’t do that well. So it’s kind of a good redemption.”
It also was only his second event back from September shoulder surgery, and another silver behind Wise.
Wise did the same run that earned him his second straight X Games gold last weekend – with back-to-back double corks.
“It was kind of my statement, banner run for the year – one of the more innovative runs that we’ve seen in halfpipe,” said Wise, whose winning score was 93.8, edging Yater-Wallace by two-tenths of a point. “This is what I like about skiing. I’m glad I put it to my feet on the first run because I fell on my second run, which is kind of rare for me. I’m really happy to have skied well here.”
So was Kevin Rolland, who let out a scream when he finished his second run that scored 93.0 and vaulted him onto the podium.
“That was the first clean run that I landed this year,” Rolland said.
Shaun White fell on his first run at the U.S. Grand Prix on Friday after over-rotating a trick, ending up with a face plant near the bottom of the 22-foot superpipe.
Another scare for winter action sports.
Yet the two-time Olympic champion still walked away with gold after a clean second run with plenty of big air earned him 97.25 points.
“That first run was brutal,” said White, who was coming off his record sixth straight X Games gold. “I just misjudged the last hit and I had to squeak it out. I ended up on my face.”
He said the frontside wall at Park City Mountain Resort’s pipe has so much vertical it actually pushes athletes farther down the landing.
“Kills your speed, kills your motivation, you got nothing to get to the next wall and that’s what happened,” he said. That only motivated him more to nail the same trick – a double McTwist.
White chose to compete because he needed points to put toward Olympic qualifying.
Scott Lago finished second with 94.50 points and Luke Mitrani was third with 91.75 to complete an American sweep. Mitrani won the national title based on points earned at Friday’s event and another event in Colorado this season – earning him an extra $20,000.
Two-time Olympic medalist and four-time X Games champion Kelly Clark fell twice trying to land a difficult first trick and finished sixth.
The women’s gold instead went to China’s Jiayu Lui, who posted an 82 on her second run to edge American rookie Arielle Gold (80.25). American Kaitlyn Farrington was third with 73.25 points.
Gold ended up as the national champion, continuing an amazing run that included a win at the world championship two weeks ago in Quebec and a bronze as an X Games rookie last week in Aspen.
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