American athletes swept the podium at Mammoth Saturday with Taylor Seaton (left) in third; Torin Yater-Wallace first, and Gus Kenworthy second. (USSA)
MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN, CA (Dec. 17, 2016) – The American men swept the top four spots in the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix halfpipe freeskiing event at Mammoth Mountain, which also served as the first U.S. Olympic team qualifier for the freeskiers. Torin Yater-Wallace (Basalt, CO) won the event, followed by Gus Kenworthy (Telluride, CO) in second, Taylor Seaton (Avon, CO) in third and Aaron Blunck (Crested Butte, CO) in fourth. Maddie Bowman (South Lake Tahoe, CA) hit the podium for the ladies with a second-place finish and Brita Sigourney (Carmel, CA) was fourth.
Weather made an impact on the 2017 event, with snow throughout the week and high winds canceling the halfpipe final, which was scheduled to run on Saturday. Overall results were determined by the qualifying round results from Wednesday.
It was a big win for Yater-Wallace, who has struggled with downtime due to illness and injury over the past few seasons and was dealing with a bruised heel through the event. The win at Mammoth was his seventh career World Cup podium, though the last one came at Copper Mountain back in 2014.
Gus Kenworthy finished second in Saturday’s Toyota U.S. Grand Prix halfpipe. (USSA)
Kenworthy scored his first podium of the year after winning the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth in 2016. “I don't think I prepared for this event any differently than I would have for any other event," the Telluride native said after the event. “The fact that it's an Olympic qualifier definitely adds a lot of pressure, but I tried not to think too much about the stakes at hand and just focused on landing my run.”
Seaton has an excellent showing with a run that featured two more tricks than most other skiers. “I’ve been dreaming of doing this run since I was 14 years old,” Seaton said. “I think it just had to do with a lot of work on fundamentals, doing alley-oop 180s and really just trying to ride the transition of the pipe to squeeze all seven hits in.”
Bowman, the 2014 Olympic halfpipe gold medalist, grabbed her second podium of the year after earning bronze at X Games Aspen the week before the Grand Prix. Marie Martinod of France won the event and Ayana Onozuka of Japan was third.
Other Americans that qualified for the final: Annalisa Drew (Andover, MA) was fifth; Carly Margulies (Mammoth Lakes, CA) was seventh; David Wise (Reno, NV) was eighth; Hunter Hess (Bend, OR) was 10th.
Mens slopestyle qualifiers and women and men's slopestyle finals are scheduled to go off on Sunday at Mammoth, pending weather.
Torin Yater-Wallace won for the men. His first run scored 92.33: right double cork 1260 mute, left 1080 tail, switch right 720 mute, left 900 tail, right 900 tail.
Gus Kenworthy was second for the men. His second run scored 92.00: right 720, switch double 1080, right 900, double 1260, alley-oop flat 540.
Maddie Bowman was second for the ladies. Her second run scored 86.66: straight air safety, left 900 (no grab), right 540 (no grab), left 540 tail grab, right 720 mute, switch left 540 (no grab).
Taylor Seaton was third for the men. His first run scored 90.00: switch right 900 mute, switch left 720 safety, right 900 tail, left 900 tail, left alley-oop flat 540 safety, right alley-oop 900 tail, left alley-oop 900 opposite tail
QUOTES Torin Yater-Wallace I didn't change anything going into this event. (I’m) actually dealing with a really bruised heel right now, but I am working through it.
Gus Kenworthy I don't think I prepared for this event any differently than I would have for any other event. The fact that it's an Olympic qualifier definitely adds a lot of pressure but I tried not to think too much about the stakes at hand and just focused on landing my run.
Maddie Bowman I keep forgetting that this is an Olympic qualifier because it’s so far out but I’m pretty happy to be sitting where I am right now seeing as it is an Olympic qualifier. Right now I’m just skiing and having fun.
Taylor Seaton I’ve been dreaming of doing this run since I was 14 years old. It’s been a long time in the making and to be able to put it down on my very first attempt at doing it as a full run—it couldn’t have gone any better. I just can’t believe that I was able to execute it the way I did. I think it just had to do with a lot of work on fundamentals, doing alley-oop 180s and really just trying to ride the transition of the pipe to squeeze all seven hits in.