Toyota U.S. Grand Prix Kicks off at Copper Mountain
Ben Ferguson practices on the Copper Mountain halfpipe before the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix tour kicks off this week. (Getty Images-Sean M. Haffey)
COPPER MOUNTAIN, CO (Jan. 13) – The world’s most elite snowboarders and skiers are at Copper Mountain this week for the first stop of the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix tour. Both snowboarders and freeskiers will compete in halfpipe and the snowboarders will also compete in big air.
With a ton of fresh snow falling at Copper Mountain over the last week, the 22-foot Main Vein Superpipe is open and ready for action from the top snowboarders in the world. The big air jump, built adjacent to the Main Vein halfpipe at Copper’s Centre Village, will serve as the first non-scaffolding big air venue featured on the World Cup circuit since Valmalenco, Italy in 2008.
In the halfpipe, watch for competitive performances from Chloe Kim (La Palma, CA), who made history at the Park City Grand Prix in February when she landed back-to-back 1080s and received a perfect score, and Shaun White (Carlsbad, CA). On the men’s side, White may see his greatest competition from 2014 Olympic gold medalist Iouri Podlatchikov of Switzerland, but he will also have to watch out for Americans like the brother duo of Ben and Gabe Ferguson (Bend, OR) and two-time X Games gold medalist Danny Davis (Highland, MI).
Olympic gold medalist Jamie Anderson (South Lake Tahoe, CA) will take to the big air jump, where she will be a heavy favorite after a win at the Winter Dew Tour last weekend. Also coming in hot for the women is 16-year-old Hailey Langland (San Clemente, CA) who placed just behind Anderson in second at the Dew Tour and Julia Marino, who won last season's Big Air at Fenway and was second at November's Olympic test event in Korea. The American men are a deeply talented squad, including: Chas Guldemond (Reno, NV), who is fresh off a fourth-place finish at the Winter Dew Tour; Kyle Mack (West Bloomfield, MI), who is the reigning Burton US Open slopestyle champion; Chris Corning (Silverthorne, CO), who was the overall FIS slopestyle champion in 2016 and Eric Willett (Breckenridge, CO), who won the Park City slopestyle event in February.
The event will offer riders valuable points towards the FIS rankings, as well as the World Snowboard Tour (WST) rankings. Both events will be broadcast on NBC, along with live streaming of the finals on nbcsports.com.
History: Copper Mountain is home to one of the best halfpipes in the world: the Olympic-standard Main Vein superpipe. They have hosted elite-level FIS competitions for many years and held the U.S. Revolution Tour just last week.
Olympians: A host of U.S. Olympians are scheduled to compete at the Copper stop of the Grand Prix, including two-time gold medalist Shaun White and Sochi champions Jamie Anderson, David Wise and Maddie Bowman.
Three-time Olympic medalist Kelly Clark was riding at Copper Mountain this week, but was not quite ready to return to competition due to her hip surgery after last season.
This year’s tour events are slated at top resorts that support the progression of freeskiing and freestyle snowboarding. Copper Mountain, Solitude Mountain Resort and Mammoth Mountain will showcase the best athletes on the highest-quality terrain in the world.
Partnership: Toyota makes its debut as the title sponsor for the U.S. Grand Prix tour. Toyota, the world’s top automaker, is committed to advanced mobility, with a fleet of vehicles that support the snow and outdoor lifestyle of skiing and snowboarding.
Sanctioning: Athletes will earn valuable points for multiple lists: Snowboarders will earn FIS points as well as points on the WST Rankings list; skiers will earn FIS points as well as points on the AFP tour.
QUOTES Eric Willet, Big Air We’re just coming off of Dew Tour so I feel like I finally got all my tricks back … It’s not like I have to warm up for this; I can go straight into it and get used to the jump. I’ve got my frontside 1440s down—I got that at Dew Tour—so I want to get that here, and then I want to go switch backside 1260 but maybe bigger—we’ll see how the week goes.
Julia Marino, Big Air The jump is really nice and well-built, so I’m having fun. Everyone always comes out to Colorado and it’s always a great meeting point—it’s super fun to see everyone.
Chas Guldemond, Big Air I’m just coming off a fourth at Dew Tour so just trying to keep that positive momentum going, stay confident in my riding and good things will come.
Hailey Langland, Big Air I’m really excited to be here at Copper—I spent the last month in Europe and Korea doing a couple of big airs there and they were all on scaffolding, so I’m excited to be here at Copper where it’s not a scaffolding jump. I think this year especially the Grand Prixs are a little bit more intense because it is leading up to the Olympics. I try to take every contest and treat it like it’s just another day on the hill but it’s definitely a bit more pressure on you when you’re at the Grand Prix and there’s a bunch of different athletes from around the world. It’s a bit nerve-wracking, but I’m excited to see what goes down.
Danny Davis, Halfpipe It’s a cultural stir fry up at the top of the pipe—there’s a lot of folks up there. It’s nice to see everybody; this is why I like doing contests, I like to see all my friends. It’s really fun to ride some transition again—I’m trying just to get a contest under my belt. I’m not really going to be too concerned about how I do here.
EVENT SCHEDULE Wed. Dec. 14 - Halfpipe Snowboarding Qualifiers Thurs. Dec. 15 - Big Air Snowboarding Qualifiers (men) Fri. Dec. 16 - Big Air Snowboarding Qualifiers (women) Fri. Dec. 16 - Halfpipe Snowboarding Finals Sat. Dec. 17 - Big Air Snowboarding Finals
2016-17 TOYOTA U.S. GRAND PRIX BROADCAST SCHEDULE (Schedule subject to change) *live streaming is available on nbcsports.com/live or via the NBC Sports App