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Six U.S. Riders Qualify For Grand Prix Halfpipe Finals

By Andrew Gauthier
December, 6 2018

The U.S. Snowboard Team qualified six athletes to Saturday’s halfpipe finals at the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, Colorado, including Olympic Gold medalist Chloe Kim (Torrence, Calif.), Maddie Mastro (Wrightwood, Calif.) and Arielle Gold (Steamboat Springs, Colo). For the men, Toby Miller (Mammoth, Calif.), along with Olympians Chase Josey (Hailey, Idaho) and Jake Pates (Eagle, Colo.) qualified.

“I couldn’t feel any better, the level of riding is absolutely through the roof,” said Miller, who finished third in the second qualifying heat. “I even heard some of the older riders at the top talking about how this is one of the highest levels of riding they’ve seen at a Copper Grand Prix in a long time. It honestly means the world to me to put down my run and get into the final. I actually learned that last trick, the frontside double cork 1260, this spring, so I’m fired up. Being on the U.S. Snowboard Team and working with the best coaches like Rick Bower, Rick Shimpeno and JJ Thomas has been truly amazing.”

Pates echoed Miller’s comments on the incredibly high level of riding on display. “The boys are riding so well. It’s tough because a lot my teammates should be in finals, but they only take five.”

Kim, who won Thursday's qualifying round, was a bit skeptical coming into competition after not having the best practice. “The competition went a lot better than I expected because I didn’t have the greatest practice. We had to break the pipe in this morning with all of the fresh snow, so it was a bit slow, but when the sun started coming out it made the second run a lot more fun. Copper is amazing and I love coming out here.”

Mastro and Gold finished second and third respectively in Thursday’s qualifying. “I’m super happy,” said Mastro. “I came here with the mindset of just landing a run and it’s just icing on the cake that it put me into finals. Saas Fee training was huge for me, it’s always a big preparation camp. I stayed a bit longer and rode at Kitzsteinhorn by myself and I think those two things combined is why I am feeling really good about my riding right now. Not to mention, the sled laps early in the week that Copper provided was also really helpful.”

While many of the riders are focusing exclusively on competition, Gold had a lot more on her mind this week. “I have been going back and forth to school, which has made this week infinitely busier,” said the University of Colorado student. “Fortunately, the training and competition schedule allowed me to shoot back up to Boulder for class which I will do again tomorrow. With all that going on, I still feel like I accomplished what I wanted to today. We have a nice long practice before finals and I think I will feel a lot better after that and maybe add couple more tricks I have on my mind.”

Although Josey is still working way back to prime form, he decided to keep things fresh and change up his usual run. “It’s the first event of the season, so I’m still working all the tricks back to where I feel comfortable implementing them into my run. Also, I’m mixing things up a little bit doing a front side alley oop on the first hit. I’m trying to be creative and throw some different tricks in there.”

Overall, it was clear that the 2018 Toyota Copper Grand Prix is going to continue to offer some of the world’s best riding. The event continues Friday with the freeski halfpipe finals.

RESULTS
Men’s halfpipe qualifications
Women’s halfpipe qualifications

START LISTS
Men’s halfpipe final
Women’s halfpipe final

HOW TO WATCH
*Subject to change
*All times EST

FREESKI
December 7, 2018

1:00 p.m. - U.S. Grand Prix halfpipe, Copper Mountain - NBC Sports & NBC Sports Gold

December 8
4:30 p.m. - U.S. Grand Prix halfpipe, Copper Mountain - NBC - Next-day broadcast

SNOWBOARD
December 8, 2018
1:00 p.m. - U.S. Grand Prix halfpipe, Copper Mountain - NBC Sports & NBC Sports Gold

December 9
12:30 p.m. - U.S. Grand Prix halfpipe, Copper Mountain - NBC - Next-day broadcast

EVENT SCHEDULE
*Subject to change
Dec. 7: 11:00 a.m. - 12:40 p.m. (MST) - Freeski Finals
Dec. 8: 11:00 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. (MST) - Snowboard Finals