Halfpipe skier Birk Irving enjoyed a nice finish to the 2018-19 season, locking down not only his first world cup podium finish but also his first career win in March in Mammoth Mountain, California.
On Saturday in Cardrona, New Zealand, the 20-year-old Winter Park, Colorado, native went out and proved that was no fluke, winning the FIS freeski halfpipe world cup opener that took place at Winter Games NZ.
With a men’s field that included last season’s crystal globe winner Simon d’Artois and 2019 world bronze medalist Noah Bowman, both from Canada, as well as two-time reigning world champion and U.S. teammate Aaron Blunck, Irving went out big from the get-go.
He put down an opening run that scored a 95.00 to put him on top and issue what would prove to be an insurmountable challenge for the rest of the competitors in their next two runs. In fact, the only person capable of topping Irving’s first-run score was Irving himself, earning a 95.60 on his third and final run.
Bowman was next closest, scoring a 93.40 on his final run, and Blunck bounced back from two disappointing attempts to score a 92.80 and move into third place on his last run.
Irving was in second place behind d’Artois after qualifying with a top score of 87.80. Last year at Mammoth Mountain, Irving leapfrogged d’Artois with a high score of 95.20 for the win.
Irving is a 2016 Youth Olympic gold medalist in halfpipe. His younger sister, Svea Irving, was the only U.S. athlete to compete in the women’s halfpipe final Saturday and finished eighth.