BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. — Tahoe-area freeskiers are off to a promising start toward qualifying for the Sochi Olympic Games.
Maddie Bowman of South Lake Tahoe and Squaw Valley skier Brita Sigourney of Carmel finished first and third, respectively, as U.S. women swept the podium Friday at the first-ever Olympic qualification series for halfpipe skiing — the Dew Tour iON Mountain Championships in Breckenridge. Angeli VanLaanen of Bellingham, Wash., was second.
A day later, two-time X Games gold medalist David Wise of Reno led a U.S. sweep of the men’s Dew Tour iON Mountain Championships podium, along with Aaron Blunck of Crested Butte, Colo., and Lyman Currier of Boulder, Colo.
“It feels good. It definitely relieves a lot of stress,” said Bowman, whose winning run consisted of a straight-air Japan, right 900, left 540 mute, straight-air mute, cork 900, right 720 and switch 540.
“These times can be pretty stressful, so I’m happy to be proactive. It’s the first event of the season that I’ve done finals in and it’s great. And for it to be the first Olympic qualifier is even more is awesome. I’m just on top of the clouds right now.”
Bowman put herself in a strong position to be selected to the first U.S. Olympic Freeskiing Team. To qualify for the Olympics, freeskiing athletes must secure two top-three results, with tiebreakers going to the athlete with the best individual result.
Wise also sits in a strong qualifying position after his win, which he achieved with a switch right 900, switch leftside double cork 1080, rightside double cork 1260, leftside double cork 1260, alley-oop flatspin 540 and leftside cork 900.
“It definitely takes some of the pressure off,” Wise said. “If I had fallen tonight then I would have been going even more pressured into the next one. Coming down with the win tonight and getting 100 points is just an amazing start to a season.”
Lead qualifier Torin Yater-Wallace sat out the final after a crash in the practice round, while 10-time X Games medalist Simon Dumont also sat out the final after crashing hard in the practice round.
The five-stop Olympic qualification series moves to Copper Mountain, Colo., for the Visa U.S. Grand Prix Presented by The North Face on Dec. 20-21.
Goepper, Logan win slopestyle qualifier
Nick Goepper sealed the top spot and took home the Dew Cup at the first-ever slopestyle skiing Olympic qualifier on Sunday, while three-time X Games medalist Devin Logan sealed the women’s victory on Saturday.
In the men’s competition, Canadian Alex Beaulieau-Marchand and Australian Russ Henshaw rounded out the podium, mastering the massive features and unpredictable winds on the giant Breckenridge kickers.
Local favorite Bobby Brown, Tom Wallisch and Alex Schlopy were the next best U.S. finishers in fourth, fifth and seventh, respectively, which puts them in prime position going into the next qualifier.
On the women’s side, U.S. Freeskiing rookie Maggie Voisin also made it onto the podium on Saturday, which also happened to be her 15th birthday, making her age-eligible for the Olympics.