Freeskiing

Kenworthy Crowned U.S. Grand Prix Winner

by
USSA
2016-01-23 19:58
 

MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN, CA (Jan. 23, 2016) – It was an American halfpipe podium sweep at the first stop of the Visa U.S. Freeskiing Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain this week. Gus Kenworthy (Telluride, CO) won the event, David Wise (Reno, CO) took second and Aaron Blunck (Crested Butte, CO) rounded out the podium in third. Due to heavy snow, Saturday's men’s halfpipe final was cancelled and the results were determined off the qualifying round, which took place Thursday.

“We knew the weather was going to be coming,” Blunck said. “So everyone tried to put down the best qualifying run possible. It was probably the highest-level qualifier I’ve ever seen.”

Kenworthy claimed his second major victory of the season with a beautiful run that included three doubles. He also topped the field in slopestyle at the Breckenridge Dew Tour, where he was skiing with a bruised heel.


Aaron Blunck and Gus Kenworthy stand on the podium after Thursday's results were declared final (missing - David Wise). (USSA)

“I had a little break after Dew Tour,” said Kenworthy, who was off snow for three weeks. “It’s hard to make yourself do that but it’s good for your body and your mind.”

Wise, who won Olympic gold at Sochi in 2014, was leading the field when he dropped in for his second run. He was forced to leave the competition, however, when he took an uncharacteristic fall on a switch left double 1080. His first run included two double 1260s and he finished second to Kenworthy by just over a point.

"I think that everyone knew going into qualifying that this was something that might end up happening," said Kenworthy, reiterating Blunck's comments. "I think everyone skied the qualifier like it was a final, so I feel good about that, but it’s always frustrating to not have the second chance to prove yourself. I’m glad everyone is safe and healthy. It worked out for me."

Nineteen-year-old Blunck used a trick he learned at the U.S. team camp in Park City last week - the left double, down-the-pipe 900 - to secure his spot on the podium.

“I’m excited. Last year coming off a little bit of a back injury I wasn’t able to compete that well, so to be back on the podium is huge,” he said. The Crested Butte local was skiing in honor of a friend who was killed recently in an avalanche.

The rest of the top Americans: Alex Ferreira (Aspen, CO) was fourth, Kyle Smaine (South Lake Tahoe, CA) eighth and Broby Leeds (Vail, CO) 10th.

Next up for the freeskiers is slopestyle on Sunday, the final day of the Visa U.S. Freeskiing Grand Prix at Mammoth.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • U.S. team member Gus Kenworthy placed first. His second run scored 94.60: Left double 1260 safety, right 1080 tail, switch double 1080 Japan, alley-oop flat 540 Japan, double 1080 safety.
  • U.S. team member David Wise finished second. His first run scored 93.20: Alley-oop flat 540 tail, left double 1260 Japan, right 1080 tail, switch 720 Japan, right double 1260 mute, left 900 Cuban
  • U.S. team member Aaron Blunck finished third. His second run scored a 91.80: Right double 1260, left 900, right 720, switch left double 900, switch right 720. 

QUOTES

Gus Kenworthy
It’s kind of a frustrating past few days—just hoping for good weather and not really getting it. Both the event organizers and the people at Mammoth did an amazing job trying to get the event off. They were dealing with snow and wind. They did the best that they could, but in the end, it was too crazy of weather and too unpredictable with the wind. They ended up canceling the finals and going with the qualifying results. 

It worked out good for me—I’m happy to end up on top—but it doesn’t feel like a totally legitimate win. I think that everyone knew going into qualifying that this was something that might end up happening. I think everyone skied the qualifier like it was a final, so I feel good about that, but it’s always frustrating to not have the second chance to prove yourself. I’m glad everyone is safe and healthy. It worked out for me.

Aaron Blunck
We all knew the weather was coming so we tried to lay it down and get the best qualifying position as possible. I was able to land my second run in qualifiers and it ended up sticking so I ended up third and I’m super stoked. I got some sad news the other day - a friend passed away in an avalanche and so I’m happy that I was able to go out and get a podium for him.

RESULTS
Men’s Halfpipe

U.S. GRAND PRIX TELEVISION SCHEDULE (all times EST)
Jan. 24, 3:00 p.m. – NBC – Visa U.S. Freeskiing Grand Prix - Slopestyle Finals

U.S. GRAND PRIX LIVE STREAMING SCHEDULE (all times EST)
Jan. 24, 12:20 p.m. – U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix - Halfpipe Finals
Jan. 24, 3:50 p.m. - Visa U.S. Freeskiing Grand Prix - Slopestyle Finals

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