COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colo. — Squaw Valley skier Brita Sigourney of Carmel gained ground on South Lake Tahoe’s Maddie Bowman in the U.S. Olympic qualification standings after her victory in Friday’s halfpipe final at the Visa U.S. Freeskiing Grand Prix Series presented by The North Face.
Sigourney and Bowman took first and second in the FIS World Cup event, while Marie Martinod of France was third.
“I’m so excited and so relieved,” Sigourney said. “I know that January is going to be a huge month full of competitions and I was really hoping to relieve some of the stress there by getting these two out of the way and getting some good results under my belt. So I’m just happier than I could ever be right now.”
Sigourney’s winning run consisted of an alley-oop Japan, leftside 900, alley-oop 540, leftside 540, rightside 540 and 720 tail.
The former Squaw Valley freeskiing coach led with a score of 85.00 after a solid first run and Bowman couldn’t match it, remaining in second place throughout the competition. Sigourney put down her second run and finished with an 86.6.
Devin Logan took the next spot for the USA in fourth, pushing her up to fourth in the qualification standings.
Cold temperatures and falling snow made for challenging conditions, slowing down the athletes in the halfpipe and making it difficult to transition between tricks.
In the men’s ski halfpipe, Aaron Blunck of Crested Butte, Colo., moved to the top of the U.S. Olympic qualification standings with a first-place finish Friday.
French favorite Kevin Rolland finished second and Gus Kenworthy of Telluride, Colo., took third, vaulting himself into the third qualification spot.
Previous points leader David Wise of Reno dropped into second place in the standings after he failed to qualify for the final.
Gold, Clark win snowboard halfpipe qualifier
Rookie rider Taylor Gold of Steamboat Springs, Colo., led a U.S. sweep with Greg Bretz of Mammoth and Ben Ferguson of Bend, Ore., in the halfpipe final at the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix at Copper.
Gold put down his winning score during the very first run of the competition after barley qualifying for the final in 16th. The entire international field was not able to top Gold’s run, which resulted in his career-first World Cup victory.
Taylor’s winning run included a backside 540, frontside 1260, double Michalchuk, frontside double cork 1080 and cab 1080.
Snow fell throughout the day, which made the halfpipe a bit slower than normal and prevented many riders from stomping tricks cleanly.
Saturday’s results kept Bretz in the lead in the qualification standings while boosting Gold into second above Shaun White, who chose not to compete Saturday in order to focus on the slopestyle competition on Sunday. Ferguson moved up in the standings into third.
Despite the lead by Bretz and Gold, all spots on the men’s Olympic team are still up for grabs, and the competition will be at an all time high when the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix goes to Breckenridge Jan. 8-11.
In the women’s competition, Olympic gold medalist Kelly Clark mathematically clinched her spot on the 2014 Olympic halfpipe snowboarding team with a victory Saturday.
Clark led a U.S. sweep of the halfpipe finals with Arielle Gold of Steamboat Springs, Colo., and Gretchen Bleiler of Aspen.
“To be honest, it’s hard for me to compute right now,” Clark said of securing her Olympic berth. “You plan, you dream, you train, and then it happens and you’re just kind of in awe.”
Clark sealed the contest with her first run score of 95.5, yet she still dropped into her second run and laid down an aggressive series of tricks, including a 1080, which scored her a 98.0.
Kaitlyn Farrington of Salt Lake City and Elena Hight of South Lake Tahoe finished fifth and eighth, respectively.