Birk Irving, the last man to make the U.S. Olympic ski halfpipe team last winter, started the post-Olympic season by winning the U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, Colorado.
Irving, a 23-year-old Coloradan, leaped from third place to first on his last of three runs, a 93.75-pointer highlighted by a double cork 1440. It marked Irving’s third top-level international win and his first in more than three years.
Freestyle skiers and snowboarders are gearing up for the Winter X Games in Aspen in late January, followed by the world championships in Georgia (the country, not the state).
The U.S. has been the strongest nation in men’s ski halfpipe since it debuted at the Olympics in 2014. David Wise won the first two gold medals. Alex Ferreira won silver and bronze at the last two Olympics. Aaron Blunck is a world champion and X Games champion.
Irving, who was fifth at the Olympics in February, beat all three of them at Copper. Ferreira placed fourth, and Wise and Blunck didn’t qualify for the eight-man final.
Irving was the lone American to win at Copper among eight events — men’s and women’s ski and snowboard big air and halfpipe.
The U.S. earned runner-up finishes in snowboard big air (Hailey Langland, Chris Corning).
Americans were shut out of the podium in the other events, notably snowboard halfpipe in the absence of the retired Shaun White and Chloe Kim, who is taking this season off from competition.
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