By Ryan Williamson | Dec. 20, 2018, 5:40 p.m. (ET)

Hunter Hess competes at the 2018 U.S. Grand Prix on Dec. 5, 2018 in Copper Mountain, Colo.


Hunter Hess made the most of the final FIS Freeski World Cup tour event of the 2018 calendar year. 

The Bend, Oregon, native finished in third place at the tour stop at the Secret Garden venue in China on Thursday. It’s Hess’ first-ever podium finish at a world cup event.

Coming into Secret Garden, Hess, 20, had competed in 12 world cup events and had never finished higher than seventh. That changed Thursday as he finished with a score of 85.50. That was behind gold medalist Simon D’Artois of Canada and Nico Porteous of New Zealand. 

Want to learn to curl like the pros? Looking for breaking news, videos, Olympic and Paralympic team bios all at your fingertips? Download the Team USA app today. 

Hess was one of three Americans to finish in the top 10. Cassidy Jarrell finished seventh while Jaxin Hoerter finished in ninth. 

This event was the first chance for competitors to see the halfpipe skiing facility that will be used for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022. The competition was scheduled for Saturday, but possible incoming weather forced the event to move to Thursday. 

With Hess’ podium finish, he moves into fifth in the world cup standings just behind fellow American Aaron Blunck, who did not compete in China. World cup action resumes Jan. 10 in Font Romeu, France.

Ryan Williamson is a sportswriter from Minneapolis-St. Paul. He is a contributor to on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.