Kenworthy and Onozuka qualify first at Mammoth Grand Prix halfpipe event

Kenworthy and Onozuka qualify first at Mammoth Grand Prix halfpipe event

‘Twas a beautiful day in the California’s Sierra Mountain range today. Twenty-eight of skiing’s top females and thirty-eight of our sport’s top male competitors took to Mammoth Mountain’s twenty-two-foot halfpipe, competing in the 2016 U.S. Grand Prix semifinals and a chance to compete in the main event, set to go down on Friday, January 22. Thanks to sunny California skies and an incredible amount of snow accumulation so far this season, the event went off without a hitch and each of the athletes threw down.

The women kicked off today’s events in a best of two run format. At the end of the contest, the top six finishers would be left for the chance to compete in tomorrow’s finals, a shot at the podium and a hefty prize purse.

After two runs, Japan’s own Ayana Onozuka proved that she deserved the top qualifying spot, due to her display of clean and consistent shredding. Onozuka impressed the judges with a series of spins in all four directions, as well as some serious amplitude and fluid landings. Onozuka posted the high score of the day, a 90.00.

The second qualifying spot belonged to Olympic champion Maddie Bowman. Today’s competition marked the first contest of the season for Bowman, who underwent knee surgery last year. Bowman proved that she has not missed a step since her injury, putting down her signature cork 900, as well as a stylish air-to-fakie final hit amidst her run, earning a score of 88.20.

Canadian pipe skier Cassie Sharpe locked up the third qualifying position on the day. Sharpe landed both of her runs, earning a top score of 83.40. Sharpe’s run was highlighted by multiple flairs and an array of spins in both directions. After the competition, Sharpe claimed that she is feeling good and looking to send it in tomorrow’s final. We’ll be stoked to watch her throw down.

Listen: Cassie Sharpe dishes the dirt about women’s semifinals

Women’s Results

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Click here to see the complete results from women’s halfpipe semifinals.

The men took their talents to the halfpipe following the ladies’ event. Despite progressing wind speeds throughout the afternoon, each of the thirty-eight competitors put their best tricks on the line for just ten spots available in Friday’s final.

After a monstrous performance on his second run through the pipe, Colorado native Gus Kenworthy took top honors on the day. After a slight hand drag on his first run, Kenworthy was left with one final chance to impress the judges and move into the top ten. As expected, Kenworthy delivered under pressure, putting the landing gear down on three humungous double corks, including a fancy double 1080 safety final hit. His amplitude-filled run earned a score of 94.60.

Watch: Gus Kenworthy discusses his top-qualifying day.

Olympic halfpipe champion David Wise secured the second position thanks to an impressive first attempt through the pipe. Wise included two double cork 1260s (both left and right side) in his qualifying run, earning a score of 93.20. Unfortunately, Wise endured an uncharacteristic crash on his second lap. He managed to get up and ski down to the finish area, but his status regarding his ability to compete tomorrow is unknown.

American Aaron Blunck earned the third qualifying position thanks to a score of 91.80 on his second run. Blunck rose to the occasion and muscled his way through the windy conditions, landing a big right side double cork 1260 mute and a technical switch double cork 900 japan. You can check out his complete run in the Instagram clip below.

Men’s Results

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Click here to see the complete results from men’s halfpipe semifinals.

Overall, it was a tremendous day of competition and we are looking forward to watching all of the athletes throw down in tomorrow’s finals. Best of luck to all.

Note: If you don’t already, be sure to follow FREESKIER on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat (username: freeskier_mag) for the most up-to-date coverage of the Mammoth Grand Prix.

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