PARK CITY MOUNTAIN, Utah (February 9, 2019) – Aaron Blunck (Crested Butte, Colo.) let it rip on his third run in the 2019 FIS Freeski World Championships Halfpipe final, retaining the World Championship title. The U.S. Ski & Snowboard athlete won in by performing some of the day’s most difficult tricks and using the full length of Park City Mountain’s Eagle Superpipe to take top podium spot from second place men’s finisher, France’s Kevin Rolland. Following his eighth-place at the 2019 X Games, Saturday’s win represented sweet redemption for Blunck in the 2018 / 2019 season.
“X Games didn’t really go my way so I just wanted to come out here and redeem myself, and it just so happens that we got to ski quite a bit of pow beforehand,” he said, recalling a winter storm that dumped more than a foot of snow on Park City during the 2019 World Champs. “I really think that was the recipe for success. I was happy. I was having fun the whole time. I came out here for finals day and it was game on. I was ready to go.” Having won freeski halfpipe gold in 2017 at Sierra Nevada, Blunck is now a two-time World Champion.
In her third and final run of Saturday’s 2019 FIS World Championships freeski halfpipe competition, 16-year-old Estonian ski prodigy, Kelly Sildaru, became the first woman to land a Switch 1080 in competition and seal her first World Championships title. The feat, which involved the skier completing three 360-degree rotations and then landing facing backwards down the pipe, earned her a field-crushing score of 95, and World Championship gold.
“I wasn’t sure if I should do it because I didn’t know if I was going to land it,” Sildaru said. “At first I thought I should do what I did on my second run and just go higher and be better but then I thought, ‘Why don’t you try?’ and then I did and I couldn’t believe it! I’m shaking.”
Saturday’s competition was not the first time Sildaru has made history in her sport. In 2016, she became the youngest woman to win X Games gold at age 13. Since then, despite being briefly derailed by an ACL tear last season, Sildaru has performed exceptionally in most contests she’s entered, often trading the top-of-the-podium spot with Canada’s Cassie Sharpe, who took silver in Saturday’s competition and gold at both this year’s X Games and in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games.
U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s Brita Sigourney (Carmel, Calif.), the first woman to ever land a 1080 in a competition halfpipe run, and the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic silver medalist, rounded out the women’s podium in the bronze position, making Saturday a medal laden day for the home team.
The men’s battle for the men’s bronze came down to a super tight contest between two Canadians, Noah Bowman and Simon d’Artois. “The pipe was sick,” d’Artois said. “You could just roost in it. It was really good.” But in the end, Bowman bested his countryman by just two-tenths of a point. “This feels amazing,” Bowman said. “This is probably the happiest I’ve ever felt with a result like this. I just – I really skied as well as I possibly could today and it feels so good just to be on the podium.”
WOMEN’S FREESKI HALFPIPE PODIUM
1.Kelly Sildaru (EST)
2.Cassie Sharpe (CAN)
3.Brita Sigourney (USA)
MEN’S FREESKI HALFPIPE PODIUM
1.Aaron Blunck (USA)
2.Kevin Rolland (FRA)
3.Noah Bowman (CAN)
Men's results - Top 20
Women's results - Top 17