By Antonio Olivero The Toyota U.S. Grand Prix judges at Copper Mountain Resort’s halfpipe on Wednesday deliberated for nearly three full minutes before awarding U.S. halfpipe freeski star David Wise his final run score of Wednesday’s qualifying round.
At 84.50, it was exactly the score — to the hundredth of a point — the two-time reigning Olympic halfpipe gold medalist from Reno, Nevada, needed to qualify for Friday’s final round. What a relief for the man most would regard as the best halfpipe freeskier on the planet.
“Ah, I remember how to ski, again!” Wise said through a kicked-up cloud of snow as he skied up to the fence line at the bottom of the 550-foot long, 22-foot high Copper halfpipe following his second of two runs.
Wise would then have to dodge the final 11 skiers from heat No. 2, including Canadian star Noah Bowman. Wise had just supplanted for that fifth and final qualifying spot after Wise entered his final run in 17th place. Moments later, Bowman fell on a trick halfway down the pipe. Ultimately, that helped send Wise through to a final that will also feature five more of the country’s best skiers in top qualifier Aaron Blunck of Crested Butte (91.75), Olympic silver medalist Alex Ferreira of Aspen (89.75), Birk Irving of Winter Park (87.75), Hunter Hess of Bend, Oregon, (85.00) and Taylor Seaton of Avon (84.50).
Though the 28-year-old has two Olympic gold medals and four Winter X Games Aspen gold medals in the halfpipe, there were some butterflies entering his final run on Wednesday after he fell halfway through his first run. Wise landed a little low on the pipe and under-rotated on the toughest trick he attempted during Wednesday’s qualifiers, a left double-cork 1260 (two inversions, three and a half horizontal rotations). He then fell to the snow on his subsequent trick on the other side of the pipe. On his second run, however, the U.S. veteran made it look easy on the chalky, crystalline snow.
“I crashed that first run and wasn’t sure I’d be able to pull it off that second run, which is what makes it exciting,” Wise said. “So I definitely felt some nerves. I don’t ever want to get to a place where it’s too commonplace for me, where I’m not nervous at all. I enjoy the nerves. I embrace them.”
With fresh, slow snow lingering on the man-made pipe through this week’s frigid, cloudy weather after the halfpipe opened on Monday, Wise said he and some other skiers struggled at times on Wednesday to keep speed enough to execute bigger tricks. Wise also was candid that, though he feels physically strong enough to succeed on the pipe, he needs “more mileage” in the halfpipe this year to feel his best technically. He should get that halfpipe-time real fast, as Friday’s Grand Prix finals are followed with next week’s Dew Tour at Breckenridge Ski Resort and the second halfpipe event of the International Ski & Snowboard Federation World Cup season in Secret Garden, China, the following …read more
Via:: Vail Daily