Eileen Gu and Alex Ferreira took the win at the first major halfpipe contest of the 2021/22 season, the U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, Colorado.
A spat of stormy weather kept competitors on edge throughout the competition, with many unable to land their best runs or unpack their top tricks. Both Gu and Ferreira prevailed on the strength of their first runs in the three-run finals. Gu landed both right and leftside cork 900s, while Ferreira put down switch 1080 tails in both directions, as well as double cork 12s and a left double 14. It was the second World Cup victory for Eileen Gu in a week, after having nabbed first place at the Visa Big Air in Steamboat Springs just six days earlier.
Two contests into the season, Eileen Gu already has two wins to her name.
“Today the conditions were really tough. It snowed overnight, it’s still snowing right now,” said Gu after the contest. “That affected me a lot, and I had to make some last-minute changes to my run. I wasn’t able to do a lot of the tricks I really wanted to, or have been working on earlier this year. At the end of day, the conditions are the same for everyone, and everybody pushed through. I’m happy with my performance on the day, and all the girls really killed it.”
Tensions were high leading up to the contest, an Olympic qualifier event for many of the participating countries. The day’s performances would help determine who gets a ticket to the upcoming Winter Olympics, and who stays at home.
Alex Ferreira brings a lot of energy to every halfpipe he drops into.
“It was so much nerves, especially for us U.S. guys,” said Ferreira. “There’s so much on the line, and we all are fighting for our opportunity to get to Beijing. So there was a rollercoaster of emotions this morning, but I’m super grateful to be here and on top of the podium.”
Canada’s Rachael Karker took second behind Gu with the help of matching left and right 900 japans as well as a leftside 1080, while Estonian Kelly Sildaru locked in third place with a technical run including 900s, alley-oop 540s and switch 540s in both directions. On the men’s side, Nico Porteous claimed second place with a switch left double cork 1080 and a leftside double cork 16, while Brendan Mackay rounded out the podium with a switch left double 900 and double cork 12s in both directions.
At just 17 years old, Hanna Faulhaber already has some of the best amplitude in the women's field. With a few more big spins, she'll be a shoo-in for the podium.
Top Canadian halfpipe skier Cassie Sharpe celebrated her return to the pipe after tearing her ACL at the X Games in January while attempting a cork 1260. Sharpe took it slow and steady in her first contest back, landing three clean runs and improving on each one.
It was a pleasure to see Cassie Sharpe back in the pipe less than a year after her knee injury.
On the men’s side, two-time Olympic gold medalist David Wise showed he’s still in the mix, placing seventh for the day. Wise attempted a double cork 16—undoubtedly this year’s pipe trick to be stomping—on his third run, but got lost in the rotation. Aaron Blunck had less success—the American pipe heavyweight crashed on all three runs, twice on his first hit.
Eight years after his first Olympic gold medal, David Wise is still a force to be reckoned with in the pipe.
The World Cup halfpipe circuit will continue at the end of the month in Calgary, Canada, with qualifications on December 30th and finals on January 1.
women’s Final results
The women's podium: Eileen Gu, Rachael Karker and Kelly Sildaru.
Men’s Final results
The men's podium: Alex Ferreira, Nico Porteous and Brendan Mackay.