Recap: Rolland and Bowman qualify first at the 2016 Park City U.S. Grand Prix

Recap: Rolland and Bowman qualify first at the 2016 Park City U.S. Grand Prix

Clear skies, a newly cut halfpipe and a collection of skiing’s top athletes made for a wonderful day of competition at Park City Mountain Resort today, as twenty-three women and thirty-five men came out swinging for the 2016 Park City U.S. Grand Prix halfpipe semifinals. Each of the competitors were throwing down, vying for a spot in the main event, set to be hosted on Friday, February 5 here in Park City, Utah.

The ladies of halfpipe skiing kicked off the day of competition with Olympic champ and X Games gold medalist Maddie Bowman leading the pack. Once again, Bowman proved that she is in charge of the women’s halfpipe scene, posting a score of 88.80 (the highest score of the day) on her first run. Bowman’s run was highlighted by a series of 900s—both left and right—and a final hit switch 720.

Claiming the number two seed heading into Friday’s finals was Japanese skier Ayana Onozuka. Onozuka has been on a podium streak all season long—bagging second place at the winter X Games, first place at the ’16 Mammoth Mountain Grand Prix and first place at the 2015 winter Dew Tour. Ayana posted a score of 87.00 thanks to technical switch hits and consistent amplitude throughout the pipe.

Nabbing the third qualifying spot heading into Friday’s finals was French skier and Olympic silver medalist Marie Martinod. Marie woo’d the judges with big amplitude and a stomped left 900 on her last hit. Be on the lookout for Martinod come Friday. She’s hungry and ready to throw down.

Women’s Results

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See the complete women’s results here.

Note: Canadian skier Roz Groenewoud left today’s competition after suffering what appeared to be a possible knee injury. Roz gave a fist pump as she was taken to medical by ski patrol. We wish her the best of luck and a speedy recovery.

As for the men, the first competitor to drop this morning was French skier and 2016 X Games gold medalist Kevin Rolland, who set the pace for the qualifying rounds of today’s event. On his first lap through the pipe, Rolland posted a score that would not be topped by any of the other thirty-four competitors. Hot off of his golden X Games performance, Rolland soared out of the pipe on each-and-every hit today, putting the landing gear down on a monster double 1080 and a last hit double cork 1260, earning a score of 92.40.

Watch: Top qualifier Kevin Rolland

Crested Butte, Colorado-native Aaron Blunck displayed his dominance in the pipe for the second time this season with two very solid runs in today’s qualifier. Earlier this year, Blunck placed second at the ’16 Mammoth Grand Prix stop, and has proved that he is at the top of his game right now. Blunck posted his highest score of the day (90.00) on his second run, highlighted by a technical switch double 900 and a large right double cork 1260 on his final hit.

Listen: Second place qualifier Aaron Blunck

Rounding out today’s top three was 2016 X Games superpipe medalist Benoit Valentin. Per usual, Valentin skied very consistently, posting two competitive scores (88.00, 87.20). Most notably, Valentin landed perfectly and soared above the pipe on his double cork 1260, which had the crowd roaring.

Note: ’16 Mammoth Grand Prix champion Gus Kenworthy opted out of competition today due to a heel injury. He is okay and is expected to ski at next week’s Big Air event at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. Also note, superpipe gangster Torin Yater-Wallace also withdrew from today’s competition due to an ankle issue. He, too, is “okay” and simply resting up.

Men’s Results

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See the complete men’s results here.

The Park City U.S. Grand Prix halfpipe finals will go down on Friday, February 5, beginning at 12:00 p.m. MST. Be sure to follow FREESKIER on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to catch all of the action. Best of luck to all of the competitors.

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