The time has come, the superpipe is taking shape, and Copper Mountain is welcoming freeski and snowboard halfpipe superstars from across the globe to compete at the 2018 Toyota U.S. Grand Prix. This year the event holds special significance as it marks over a decade of partnership between Copper Mountain and U.S. Ski & Snowboard. Not to mention, early Colorado snow will make for excellent training and competition conditions.
“I am really excited for this season of events to start up,” said U.S. Snowboard Pro Team member Jake Pates (Eagle, Colo.). “Heading to Copper Mountain is the perfect way to kick it off. Mainly, I’m just excited to link up with all of my teammates to ride and have a good time.”
U.S. Ski & Snowboard is showing up with a stacked roster of Olympic medalists, FIS World Cup Champions and rising stars ready to put their skills to the test. The U.S. Freeski Halfpipe Team is arriving with a serious collection of accolades and experience. Double Olympic gold medalist David Wise (Reno, Nev.) will be leading the charge alongside Olympic silver medalist Alex Ferreira (Aspen, Colo.) and two-time Olympian and 2017 FIS World Champion Aaron Blunck (Crested Butte, Colo.). For the women, the star-studded cast of Olympic medalists includes Brita Sigourney (Carmel, Calif.), Maddie Bowman (S. Lake Tahoe, Calif.), and Devin Logan (West Dover, Vt.). Also, PyeongChang Olympian Annalisa Drew (Andover, Mass.) will be looking to put down one of the more technical runs in women’s halfpipe freeskiing.
“Definitely excited to kick off the season and get back in the pipe,” said Sigourney. “It’s been a relaxing post-Olympic break and I’m mostly looking forward to focusing on having fun this year. My goal for Copper is to pick up where I left off last year, I would be really happy with that.”
PyeongChang Olympic gold medalist and 2017 FIS World Cup Champion Chloe Kim (Torrence, Calif.) will be looking to defend her Grand Prix title from 2016 and 2017. Look for Kim and Maddie Mastro (Wrightwood, Calif.) as they take their new tricks to the competition scene. Both come into Copper Mountain as the only two women who have landed frontside double corks on snow. However, you cannot count out Colorado local and Olympic bronze medalist Arielle Gold (Steamboat Springs, Colo.). After battling a shoulder injury in PyeongChang, she is healthy coming into the 2018-19 season. The women of the U.S. Snowboard Team will be looking to defend their podium sweep from 2017.
“I have had the privilege to work with our snowboard halfpipe riders for 12 seasons now,” said U.S. Halfpipe Pro Team Head Coach Rick Bower. “I can say that I have worked with some of the most talented snowboarders of all time and this current crew of riders are as motivated, hungry and skilled as anyone. Our riders are doing truly groundbreaking skills acquired at the Saas Fee camp and I think this season is shaping up to see some tricks that have never been done before in competition.”
Also, PyeongChang Olympians Pates, Chase Josey (Sun Valley, Idaho) as well as new U.S. Snowboard Pro Team member Toby Miller (Mammoth, Calif.) will be looking to set the tone for the season at the inaugural FIS World Cup halfpipe competition.
“We are all very excited for our first competition,” said U.S. Freeski Halfpipe Pro Team Head Coach Andrew Woods. “With all the early season snow Copper has received, conditions will be excellent and will make for a great contest. Each year, Copper gives athletes the first opportunity to show off their hard work over the summer. For the first time, they will be taking skills they learned at training camps into full competition runs. Doing well here can really boost the confidence and help to set the tone for the remainder of the year.”
The freeskiers will kick things off on Dec. 5 and snowboarders on Dec. 6 with the qualification rounds. Finals will take place on Dec. 7 for the freeskiers and Dec. 8 for the snowboarders. Whether you plan to head out to Copper Mountain, Colo. and experience the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix up close and personal or are tuning in to the networks of NBC, you are guaranteed a spectacular show. Stay tuned for more coverage as competition unfolds this week.
HOW TO WATCH
All times EST
*Subject to change
4:30 p.m. - U.S. Grand Prix halfpipe, Copper Mountain - NBC - Next-day broadcast
12:30 p.m. - U.S. Grand Prix halfpipe, Copper Mountain - NBC - Next-day broadcast
*subject to change
Dec. 5: 8:30 a.m - 3:30 p.m (MST) - Freeski Qualifications
Dec. 6: 8:30 a.m - 3:30 p.m (MST) - Snowboard Qualifications
Dec. 7: 11:00 a.m. - 12:40 p.m. (MST) - Freeski Finals
Dec. 8: 11:00 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. (MST) - Snowboard Finals