Breckenridge halfpipe skier Jaxin Hoerter reflects on top-5 finish at Mammoth Mountain Grand Prix |

Breckenridge halfpipe skier Jaxin Hoerter reflects on top-5 finish at Mammoth Mountain Grand Prix

For Breckenridge freeskier Jaxin Hoerter, it feels like this past weekend may ultimately prove to be his career’s breakthrough moment.

Hoerter soared into the powdery wind gusts high above the halfpipe at Mammoth Mountain Resort in California on Saturday to a top-five finish at the final International Ski & Snowboard Federation World Cup event of the season, the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth. By scoring an 84.80 on his final run, Hoerter finished ahead of such entrenched halfpipe freeski stars as Noah Bowman of Canada (sixth, 77.80), New Zealand’s Nico Porteous (16th) and Crested Butte’s Aaron Blunck (27th).

Hoerter also joined a top-five group that included his good friend and fellow young U.S. skier Birk Irving of Winter Park (first place, 95.20) and freeskiing legends Simon D’Artois of Canada (second, 93.80) and David Wise of Nevada (85.20).

Hoerter’s score rivaled that of the two-time Olympic gold medalist Wise thanks to his ability to put down the six-hit run through the halfpipe he’s been wanting to put down all season. And Hoerter did so on a less-than-ideal weather day at Mammoth with overcast skies and gusty winds.

The run began with one of the two bigger tricks that he uses to bookend his halfpipe run. Both have been giving him trouble all year. The first trick was a left-side 900 with a truck driver grab. The inventive trick is rather photogenic, as Hoerter leans forward over his skis to grab both of his ski tips while completing the two-and-a-half 360-degree horizontal rotations.

After the left-nine truck driver, Hoerter skied into a right-side 720 with a tail grab that was slightly corked. Coming back to the other side of the pipe, Hoerter landed a big third hit with a sendy switch single-cork 720 with a mute grab. On his fourth hit, Hoerter threw down a right-side 900 with a Japan grab that featured a single flip. On his penultimate hit, Hoerter landed a double-cork flare.

Then, on his sixth and final hit, Hoerter landed the second trick that has given him trouble over the season: an alley-oop double-cork 1260. At a World Cup in Canada earlier this year, shady conditions resulted in Hoerter struggling to finish the trick. But at Mammoth on Saturday, it wasn’t an issue, as Hoerter has been working diligently on his air awareness and just when to bring his feet into his body while corking-out the trick.

With the run completed, Hoerter skied into the corral on Saturday afternoon knowing he could have the chance to remain there as a top-three skier. At first he was in the top-three until D’Artois and Wise bumped him off. Despite that reality, a fifth-place finish was super sweet for Hoerter.

“It felt amazing,” Hoerter said by phone from Mammoth Mountain on Tuesday. “Last year when I was here I made finals and got eighth. I’ve always been right outside that top little group, so to finish within that top group, it’s such a good feeling. I’ve made it this far, so I hope I can progress a bit further. And it was a great experience to be surrounded by friends who do what you do well.”

After the event, Wise and D’Artois — two skiers Hoerter looked up to as a kid here in Summit County — both gave him words of encouragement.

“They were like, ‘That was the best we’ve seen you ski, by far,’” Hoerter said. “‘Keep it going, buddy. You’re doing great.’”

Looking ahead to next season, Hoerter should have his spot locked down for the U.S. Rookie Team, though he’s hopeful maybe a spot will open up on the pro team. Either way, as this winter season comes to a close, he’s proven he’ll be a force to be reckoned with internationally come next season.

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