Three U.S. Freeskiing Athletes Podium at Grand Prix
France's Benoit Valentin (left), Olympic champion David Wise and Torin-Yater Wallace claimed the halfpipe skiing top spots at the first Visa U.S. Freeskiing Grand Prix of the season at Copper Mountain, CO. (Photo: Sarah Brunson/ U.S. Freeskiing)
COPPER MOUNTAIN, CO (Dec. 5) – A heated early season battle went down today at the first stop of the Sprint U.S Grand Prix tour and opening FIS Freestyle World Cup event of the season in Copper Mountain, CO with Olympic Champion David Wise and New Zealander Janina Kuzma taking home top honors. The brand new three run, best run counts format gave today’s finalist a lot of opportunity for progression, but David Wise’s consistent skiing and back-to-back double cork prowess set the stage early in the game. Wise won the contest with his first run of the day in which he linked both right and left double cork 1260s.
Second and third place finishers Torin Yater-Wallace and Benoit Valentin favored the three run format, mixing up their tricks and upping their scores as the day progressed. Alex Ferierra and current AFP World Champion Kevin Rolland finished just off the podium in fourth and fifth respectively. U.S. Freeskiing teammates Gus Kenworthy and Aaron Blunk rounded out the top seven.
Progression was the name of the game on the women’s side as well, with Kiwi skier Janina Kuzma landing her first 900 in competition and simultaneously landing herself on the top of the podium. Olympic slopestyle silver medalist Devin Logan nabbed second place with her stellar first run combo of a left 720 mute to switch alley-oop 540. Olympic halfpipe silver medalist from Japan Ayana Onozuka walked away with third place just edging out American Annalisa Drew.
Be sure to watch the NBC broadcast of today’s event on NBC at 5 p.m. EST on Dec. 6th. Also tune in on Dec. 6th as the snowboarders take to the halfpipe. Three-time Olympic medalist Kelly Clark and young gun Ben Ferguson will attempt to hold onto their spots as top qualifiers. Live action starts at 2:30 p.m. EST on NBC Sports Live Extra.
David Wise, 1st Place, Men Today was amazing. I was feeling really good right from the start. Practice was great. My first run was my best run because I think I was still in the zone from practice. I’m stoked I was able to put my first run down and ride that wave.
Every year, competition gets a little bit easier for me. I just have the repetitions, and the tricks are getting more and more like muscle memory. I used to be the kid who would come out and blast into the halfpipe and might win if I landed on my feet. Over the years I’ve changed into the skier who lands every time and that’s obviously my goal and so I’m stoked to have done so.
Torin Yater-Wallace, 2nd Place, Men This was my first pipe event since Russia. It was a little nerve-wracking because I didn’t do so well in Russia so it’s nice to come back off of the Olympics and show that I’ve still got it. Today was just fun and good times.
Devin Logan, 2nd Place, Women I put down a good first run that I was happy with and was just kind of taking this as practice as it’s the first comp of the year. I’m just happy to get on the podium with some really good girls out there.