Following three consecutive fourth-place finishes on the world cup circuit, Birk Irving found his way back to the podium Friday in Calgary, Alberta.
The 20-year-old halfpipe skier from Winter Park, Colorado, delivered a score of 90.40 on his final run to leapfrog fellow American and two-time Olympic gold medalist David Wise and claim third place.
The result snapped the string of fourth-place finishes that followed his season-opening win in New Zealand.
With a top score of just 53.80 after two runs, Irving needed a strong final run to jump onto the podium, and that’s exactly what he did. Wise, competing last, was unable to improve upon his best score of 89.80 and finished fourth.
Two-time U.S. Olympian Gus Kenworthy, who now competes for Great Britain, won the competition with a score of 93.20 on his first run. Canada’s Brendan Mackay finished second with a run of 91.00. Kenworthy had last won a world cup in January 2016.
Six of the 10 finalists were Americans. Cassidy Jarrell finished sixth with a top run of 83.60, followed by Taylor Seaton in seventh place with a score of 82.00, Hunter Hess in eighth with a score of 75.40 and Lyman Currier in 10th with a score of 19.80.
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Irving has been climbing the ranks of halfpipe skiing since winning the Youth Olympic Games gold medal in 2016. In March 2019, he captured his first world cup win at Mammoth Mountain in California. He has not finished lower than fourth place in qualifying or final rounds of a world cup since, though he was fifth at the X Games last month.
Abigale Hansen was the highest-finishing American in the women’s final, placing fifth with a top run of 76.80. She was followed by two-time Olympians Devin Logan, who finished sixth with a score of 72.60, and Brita Sigourney, who was seventh with a score of 48.60.
Ailing Eileen Gu of China, also a former U.S. competitor, won the competition with a best run of 94.00.
The Calgary world cup stop continues Saturday with finals in slopestyle skiing and halfpipe snowboarding, and Sunday with the slopestyle snowboarding finals.
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.