(L-R) Noah Bowman of Canada, Aaron Blunck and David Wise celebrate on the podium at the 2019 U.S. Grand Prix on Dec. 13, 2019 in Copper Mountain, Colo.
Two-time Olympian Aaron Blunck won an American battle in the men’s halfpipe skiing final Friday at the U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, Colorado.
Blunck nailed a top score of 87.00 in the grand prix, the second freestyle skiing world cup of the season, leading a 1-2 U.S. finish in the men’s final. Olympic medalist Brita Sigourney finished second in the women’s final.
David Wise, Blunck’s two-time Olympic teammate and a two-time gold medalist, finished second with a score of 85.25.
Youth Olympic champion Birk Irving, winner of the season’s inaugural world cup in New Zealand, nearly completed an all-American podium, but finished fourth with a score of 84.50, just 0.25 behind Canada’s Noah Bowman.
The men’s final featured an early season showdown between a two-time reigning world champion in Blunck and a two-time reigning Olympic champion in Wise.
Blunck and Wise both attacked the halfpipe with aggressive runs to put on a show in snowy and windy conditions. Blunck scored 87.00 on his second run and Wise was just behind with a score of 85.25. Neither of them hit 75.00 on their final run, partly due to the weather.
“Just trying to make it to the bottom (of the course) clean, do the best I can do,” said Blunck, who won the Copper grand prix for the second consecutive year. “…It's a good confidence builder going into the season.”
Six of the top eight finishers in the men's final were Americans. Following Irving in fourth place were Taylor Season in fifth, Alex Ferreira in seventh and Jaxin Hoerter in eighth.
In the women’s final, Sigourney had the best final run of the day, posting 85.00. She had two of the top three runs of the competition, but still couldn’t top winner Zoe Atkin of Great Britain, whose first run of 87.75 was the best of the finals.
Rachael Karker of Canada finished third with a top run of 81.75.
Olympic medalist Devin Logan placed sixth.
Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic and Paralympic sports since 1996, when he was an assistant bureau chief in Atlanta. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.