Halfpipe World Cup season gets underway in Copper Mountain this week and our Aussie crew are firing.
The 2022/23 FIS Snowboard halfpipe season is set to get underway this week in Copper Mountain (USA) at the Toyota US Grand Prix, the first of four halfpipe World Cup events slated to take place between now and mid-February 2023.
Qualifications in Copper are scheduled to take place on Wednesday, 14 December beginning at 09:30 MT (03.30 AEDT 15/12) with the women, followed by men’s heat one at 11:55 (5.55 AEDT), and heat two at 14:10 (8.10 AEDT). Finals are to follow on Friday, 16 December beginning at 13:00 (7.00 AEDT 17/12).
On the men’s side our own Scotty James (AUS), Beijing 2022 silver medallist and winner of just about anything there is to win in the pipe, from World Championships to crystal globes to X Games golds and everything in between, is a hot contender.
James was largely absent from the World Cup last season as he focused on the Games, entering only the Laax Open where he finished a surprising 11th. Look for him to be in the hunt for his seventh career World Cup victory – and his third at Copper – on Friday.
While Ayumu Hirano won’t be dropping in on the US Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, the Japanese team is still the strongest force in halfpipe snowboarding even without their three-time Olympic medallist, with Ayumu’s brother Kaishu Hirano, Yuto Totsuka, Ruka Hirano and and handful of others all outrageously talented.
Totsuka and Ruka Hirano in particular have been exceptional at Copper with podiums in both of the last two events here, including a win for Ruka at last year’s competition.
Beijing 2022 bronze medallist Jan Scherrer was second in Copper last season and can be counted on to bring his unique style to the event once again, and the same can be said of Taylor Gold, who’s got two prior victories at Copper, though none since the 2014/15 season.
With the likes of Chase Josey, Lucas Foster, Joey Okesson, Toby Miller and a handful of others riding along with Gold, the US team is looking primed to make some noise this weekend on home soil.
Of course we must watch out for our legend Valentino Guseli (AUS), the 17-year-old triple-threat who’s fresh off his first career World Cup victory at the Edmonton (CAN) Style Experience big air this past weekend.
Guseli now has podiums in both slopestyle and big air, and it’s just a matter of time before he adds a pipe top-3 to that tally. When he does, he’ll join an elite group that includes Finnish legends Janne Korpi and Peetu Piiroinen and perhaps a couple of others with top-3’s in all three Park & Pipe competitions.
Let’s not forget Aussie Emily Arthur who will be competing in the Halfpipe Women’s Event at Copper Mountain. Arthur was the best placed Australian female in snowboard halfpipe at PyeongChang 2018 when she finished 11th in her Winter Olympic debut.