Olympians and unknowns duke it out at 2017 U.S. Grand Prix finals | SummitDaily.com

Olympians and unknowns duke it out at 2017 U.S. Grand Prix finals

A freeskier airs out of the pipe during first round qualifiers at the 2013 Sprint U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain. The competition continues today and Saturday (Dec. 16-17) with snowboard halfpipe, snowboard big air and freeski halfpipe finals.
Sebastian Foltz / Summit Daily file photo |

COPPER MOUNTAIN — You’ve never seen Copper Mountain like this.

Over the past few days, more than 200 elite and unknown athletes from across the globe have battled each other (and the elements) at opening rounds of the 2017 U.S. Grand Prix. By Thursday night, the finals start lists were confirmed and the best of the best were ready for the big show: snowboard halfpipe finals today, followed by freeski halfpipe finals and snowboard big-air finals on Saturday.

Copper knows how to throw a party, and it all starts with the competition venues. Found on lower Main Vein, both the superpipe and big-air jump are easily visible from just about anywhere in Center Village — not to mention bird’s-eye view from American Eagle lift — and most of the surrounding patios at Burning Stones Plaza. Finals for all events are free and open to the public, including the big-air finals on Saturday afternoon. The event makes its Winter Olympics debut in 2018 at PyeonChang, and that means everyone from Sebastien Toutant to Breck’s own Eric Willett will huck it out for the podium.

Before making your way to the U.S. Grand Prix, we’ve put together a cheat sheet for athletes to watch when all eyes are on Copper Mountain. Sit back, relax and enjoy the show.

Women’s snowboard superpipe finals | Dec. 16

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to a preview of the 2018 women’s halfpipe finals. Three Americans made the six-woman start list, including 16-year-old phenom Chloe Kim, who’s already earned a few X Games and Dew Tour medals but was too young for the Sochi invite. Joining her are two Chinese riders, Xuetong Cai and Liu Jiayu, led by Swiss rider Verena Rohrer. She roared into finals with the highest score at Thursday’s qualifier and doesn’t look to let up.

1. Verena Rohrer (SUI)

2. Hannah Teter (USA)

3. Chloe Kim (USA)

4. Xuetong Cai (CHN)

5. Jiayu Liu (CHN)

6. Elena Hight (USA)

Men’s snowboard superpipe finals | Dec. 16

Could this be the return of Louie Vito? At Wednesday’s qualifiers, the wild-and-crazy Ohio native (and “Dancing with the Stars” alum) took top honors ahead of Danny Davis, Greg Bretz and defending Olympic halfpipe champ Iouri “I-Pod” Podladtchikov, plus a whopping five Swiss finalists. Vito has been here before — he was U.S. Grand Prix overall champ from 2008-2012, with a silver in 2010 — but individual wins have eluded him lately. Watch for an electric run in the 10-man finals.

1. Louie Vito (USA)

2. Danny Davis (USA)

3. David Habluetzel (SUI)

4. Jan Scherrer (SUI)

5. Christian Haller (SUI)

6. Greg Bretz (USA)

7. James Scotty (AUS)

8. Chase Josey (USA)

9. Patrick Burgener (SUI)

10. Iouri Podladtchikov (SUI)

Women’s freeski superpipe finals | Dec. 17

These days, freeskiing is more of an international affair than ever before. Just look at the women’s ski pipe finals: five of the eight riders hail from different countries, including up-and-coming powerhouses like Japan and New Zealand. American Olympic veteran Devin Logan enters the contest in third overall, but it could easily be anyone’s game.

1. Sabrina Cakmakli (GER)

2. Janina Kuzma (NZL)

3. Devin Logan (USA)

4. Saori Suzuki (JPN)

5. Carly Margulies (USA)

6. Annalisa Drew (USA)

7. Ayana Onozuka (JPN)

8. Marie Martinod (FRA)

Men’s freeski superpipe finals | Dec. 17

Don’t miss this one. Early on Saturday morning, 10 elite finalists duke it out for the freeski pipe podium, which means inverted 1260s, double underflips and 20-plus feet of air over the lip. Big-time international stars like Kevin Rolland of France and American superstar Gus Kenworthy chase newcomer Miguel Porteous, the 17-year-old Kiwi who had the best run in qualifiers.

1. Miguel Porteous (NZL)

2. Joel Gisler (SUI)

3. Alex Ferreira (USA)

4. Birk Irving (USA)

5. Byron Wells (NZL)

6. Gus Kenworthy (USA)

7. Kevin Rolland (FRA)

8. David Wise (USA)

9. Benoit Valentin (FRA)

10. Aaron Blunck (USA)

Women’s snowboard big air finals | Dec. 17

Jamie Anderson has been itching for this one. When the jump finals at Dew Tour were canceled last weekend, Anderson came away with the de facto victory in the women’s slopestyle — and she only hit the jibs. On Saturday, against a slate of international competitors, the reigning Olympic slope champ is sitting pretty in third overall. Look for inverted 720s, cab 720s, a few 900s and maybe a 1080 or two.

1. Kjerstil Buaas (NOR)

2. Enni Rukajarvi (FIN)

3. Jamie Anderson (USA)

4. Julia Marino (USA)

5. Katie Ormerod (GBR)

6. Klaudia Medlova (SVK)

Men’s snowboard big air finals | Dec. 17

It makes sense to save this one for the U.S. Grand Prix finale. These guys have a deep, deep bag of tricks: 900s in both directions, double 1260s, switch double 1260s and flat-spin 1440s, all with more grab variations than there are named grabs. Don’t miss it.

1. Ryan Stassel (USA)

2. Nikolas Baden (USA)

3. Roope Tonteri (FIN)

4. Chris Corning (USA)

5. Eric Willett (USA)

6. Sebastien Toutant (CAN)

7. Kalle Jarvilehto (FIN)

8. Max Eberhardt (CAN)

9. Markus Olimstad (NOR)

10. Max Parrot (CAN)

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