PARK CITY, USA, 31 JAN 2013 – While World Cup aerials and moguls events are taking place this weekend at the legendary venue in Deer Valley, Utah, USA, just a few minutes up the road some of the best new school talent in the world has converged on a particularly famous halfpipe to take part in the Sprint US Freeskiing Grand Prix in Park City, beginning today with qualifications.
The Park City venue is often remembered as the site of the historic American sweep of the podium in men's snowboard halfpipe – a feat the USA had not pulled off since three American figure skaters shared the podium at the 1956 Olympic Games. In the 2002 event the USA also claimed gold in women's snowboard halfpipe. With that history in mind, and in a pipe considered by many to be one of the best in the world, the Americans will surely be looking to make a strong statement on home soil.
The host country's skiers may be well-positioned to score a result like the one achieved by their snowboarding brethren in those 2002 Olympics. At the Copper Mountain halfpipe event just before Christmas, the USA took 2nd and 3rd place in the men's division while putting four skiers in the top 10. Further, at the recent 2013 X-Games, American skiers did, in fact, manage to pull off the podium sweep. And, on the women's side, Maddie Bowman won both the Copper Mountain World Cup and the X-Games, and looks to be the one to beat in women's halfpipe this season.
However, while the American team looks strong, there are a stack of international competitors capable of stepping in to win at any time. Canadian Mike Riddle took Copper Mountain, on the men's side, and his teammate Rosalind Groenewoud finished second at both Copper and the X-Games. On the men's side, the French team also looks strong, with three skiers in the World Cup overall top ten, including overall leader Thomas Krief. For the ladies, two Japanese skiers are in the overall top five, with Manami Mitsuboshi sitting on top.
Park City is the third FIS Freestyle halfpipe event of 2012-13 and marks the halfway point of the World Cup season. Qualifications take place today with finals scheduled for Saturday.
*This event was postponed from its orginally scheduled date of 21-22 December due to adverse conditions in Park City at that time.
More information and a detailed program can be found at usfreeskiing.com.