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Slopestyle skiing World Cup opener canceled due to heavy snow

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The first freestyle skiing slopestyle event of the 2019-20 World Cup season, due to take place this weekend in Stubai, Austria, has been canceled.

“Last week’s heavy snowstorm combined with high avalanche danger kept the resort closed for two days over this past weekend, causing major delays in course preparations, which in turn the postponement of Wednesday’s first training session,” international organizers FIS said.

The forecast also called for another snowstorm to blow through the area on Thursday, exacerbating the situation.

Slopestyle specialists will have to wait until January to begin their season in Font Romeu, France. The series then heads to Italy before hopping to North America for events in Mammoth Mountain, Calif., and Calgary. The fifth and final remaining event on the calendar will be in March in Silvaplana, Switzerland.

But the U.S. team will still be busy. Many slopestyle skiers also compete in big air and have World Cup events scheduled at two unusual venues in December — a former steel mill in Beijing and SunTrust Park, the Atlanta Braves’ baseball stadium, which will be transformed with 29,000 pieces of steel and 800 tons of snow.

The Winter X Games take place in the week between the Italy and Mammoth World Cup stops.

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Kelly Sildaru completes medal trifecta at X Games

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A teenager from a country with no mountains claimed three medals in two days at the X Games in Aspen.

That’s 16-year-old Kelly Sildaru, the Estonian sensation who three years ago became the youngest winner of a winter event with her inaugural slopestyle title at age 13.

Sildaru finished second in halfpipe last night, took this morning’s slopestyle title with a score of 99 out of 100 before placing third in big air on Friday night. She is the second woman – and the first in 22 years – to win three medals at one X Games (Swedish snowboarder Jennie Waara did so in 1997). Sildaru has now made the X Games podium seven times.

Her trio of medals comes less than a year-and-a-half after she tore her left ACL, causing her to miss the Olympics, where she was pegged as a medal favorite in both slopestyle and halfpipe.

Sildaru hails from Tallinn, Estonia, a country whose tallest peak is just over 1000 feet. She followed her father, Tonis, into skiing, and travels as a trio with Tonis and her younger brother, Henry, who is also an avid freeskier. They document their travels and skiing ventures though vlogs on their YouTube channel.

Sildaru’s hectic X Games program meant a relatively rigid schedule in Aspen. Even the seemingly unstoppable Sildaru admitted she was a little weary, telling the Aspen Times, “I always really wanted to do all three disciplines, and I knew it was going to be hard but I didn’t think it was going to be this hard.”

 

 

Alex Ferreira, David Wise go 1-2 on first night of X Games

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It’s safe to say Alex Ferreira has been imagining this moment for a while.

As a child, the Aspen native used to skip school with friends to watch his favorite skiers during their practice sessions. On Thursday night, the 2018 Olympic silver medalist in ski halfpipe won his first X Games title in front of a home crowd at Buttermilk Mountain.

Ferreira looked strong from the start, posting a 90.33 on his first run. But his third run – with a dizzying sequence of double corks – was even better. Two-time reigning Olympic gold medalist David Wise finished second, and New Zealand’s Nico Porteous, the PyeongChang bronze medalist, placed third.

The depth of U.S. halfpipe talent could merit a sweep on any given day. But 2017 X Games winner Aaron Blunck was unable to execute, and Gus Kenworthy, the 2014 Olympic slopestyle silver medalist, crashed in all three runs.

In women’s ski halfpipe, reigning Olympic gold medalist Cassie Sharpe of Canada proved she’s still the one to beat: known for her fearlessness and daring approach to the pipe, Sharpe won with a difficult run and incredible amplitude, ending with a 1080.

Sharpe topped Estonian phenom Kelly Sildaru, who was the youngest winter athlete to win an X Games title three years ago in slopestyle. Sildaru is competing in a trio of events this week, going for her third slopestyle title and as well as competing in big air.

Canada’s Rachael Karker finished third in her X Games debut. The Americans missed the podium entirely, despite having a formidable field of competitors. Brita Sigourney, the PyeongChang bronze medalist, finished fourth, while 2014 Olympic gold medalist and five-time X Games winner Maddie Bowman placed fifth.