With the dust from Winter X barely settled, the men and women of freeskiing are at it again this Saturday for the halfpipe finals of the Grand Prix at Park City Mountain Resort. The competition, the second stop on this year’s World Cup, whittled down a large field in Thursday’s quarterfinal rounds to set up a 12-skier final for both the men and women.
Americans David Wise, Torin Yater-Wallace, and Simon Dumont enter Saturday’s final riding high, having swept the podium last week in Aspen. But a trio of Frenchman, lead by halfpipe wizard Kevin Rolland, are poised to disrupt the balance, and if Rolland can put his final double to his feet, expect him to jostle that top three. Then of course there is Canada’s Mike Riddle, winner of the first World Cup halfpipe competition at Copper Mountain. After not making the finals at Winter X, Riddle stormed back to qualify first for Saturday’s final by absolutely boosting out of the PCMR pipe yesterday. Needless to say, this weekend’s podium could be looking quite different than a week ago.
For the women, young gun Maddie Bowman is quickly putting together a dominant year, winning the Copper World Cup stop and Winter X. She, along with Roz Groenewoud, are gunning for top honors this weekend, but have to best a surging Brita Sigourney in her home pipe. Not-so-dark horse Anais Caradeux may also be a key player in the action Saturday. After falling on her three finals runs at Winter X, the French skier stomped her high amplitude run Thursday, qualifying first for the women.
Temps are expected to stay in the mid-20s Saturday, so the pipe will stay hard and fast, and with the weatherman promising sunshine and minimal wind, the field should have perfect conditions for spotting up big landings. After playing host to some of the biggest events in freeskiing, including the 2011 World Championships, the PCMR pipe is ready to add another banger to its resume, and with a field like Saturday’s, this year’s Grand Prix final shouldn’t disappoint.