Heads up, fans of the fine art of the stunt ditch: The 2023/24 Freeski World Cup Halfpipe circuit kicks off this week at Secret Garden in China.
Hot on the heels of last weekend's Big Air Beijing, the sharp-edged halfpipe specialists now get their chance to shine as the 2022 Olympic halfpipe venue hosts the debut World Cup contest of the season.
After a post-Olympic break that included a cancelled event last year, the World Cup circuit returns to the Secret Garden pipe. Photo: Wallace
On the women's side, the big story is Eileen Gu's return to competition. Gu injured her knee during training for the 2023 X Games and hasn't competed in a pipe contest since, so her millions of fans will be intrigued to know if the currently undisputed queen of the halfpipe still has her mojo. She'll be up against the monster amplitude of American Hanna Faulhaber and the technical prowess of fellow Chinese pipe skier Kexin Zhang, as well as a healthy dose of up-and-coming talent from the USA, China, Canada and Korea. Notably, these are the only four nations represented in the women's contest.
For the men, there's also a notable return: Nico Porteous is back in the pipe after taking a post-Olympic year off from competition to enjoy the good life and to film "FunkRx" with Gavin Rudy. Can the man with the golden back-to-back 1620s still hold it down against hungry upstarts like fellow New Zealander Ben Harrington, American veteran Alex Ferreira and Finnish technician Jon Sallinen?
You can see the full start lists as well as live scoring at fis-ski.com.
After nearly a year off from competition, Eileen Gu will be dropping into the Secret Garden pipe for Thursday´s qualification round. Photo: Buchholz/FIS
Qualifications go down on Thursday, 7 December, with the women dropping in at 9:30am local time (2:30am CET) followed by the men at 11:15am local time (4:15 CET). A qualification livestream is available here!
The finals will be held on Saturday, December 9th with both the men's and women's contest starting at 11:00am local time (4:00am CET). The finals livesteams is available here.
Jon Sallinen is always one to watch. Photo: Buchholz/FIS
After China, the World Cup halfpipe circuit will continue with contests at Copper Mountain, Colorado from 13-15 December; Mammoth Mountain, California from 31 January–4 February; and conclude with a double-header at the Calgary Snow Rodeo from 15–17 February.
Secret Garden World Cup halfpipe, women´s qualification results
Secret Garden World Cup halfpipe, men´s qualification results