words: Mary Walsh
photos: Ryan “Huggy” Hughes and Mark Imanuel

The 2013 Copper Grand Prix wrapped up on Sunday, December 22, 2013 with Men’s and Women’s Slopestyle Finals. This first stop of the 2013-14 Grand Prix is the only World Cup event of the series and is also an Olympic Team Qualifier for both the American and Norweigian Teams. To break down what can be a fairly confusing process, Olympic qualifying within FIS events requires that a rider places within the top 36 (for men) and top 24 (for women) in at least one event of their chosen discipline. So, in addition to the top three finishers in each contest, some athletes that didn’t stand on top of the podium still earned valuable points heading into February’s Winter Games.

The US Team pulled rank in Saturday’s Halfpipe Finals, sweeping the podium on both the men’s and women’s sides, but on Sunday there was a more global spread in the winner’s circle as Norway and Switzerland flexed their muscles and showed off some of the riders they could be bringing to Sochi.

Norway has a storied heritage when it comes to slopestyle competition. The arctic country has produced a legion of snowboarders whose skills were honed on icy slopes and who possess a steadiness under pressure that has lead to countless podiums in contests the world over. Andreas Wiig, Mikkel Bang, Kjersti Buaas, Torstein Horgmo, Ulrik Badertscher—the list goes on. On Sunday, the Norwegians provided a preview of their Olympic team depth by taking the top two spots in Men’s Finals.

Park City, Utah’s Sage Kotsenburg, who had qualified first going into Finals, put down a clean cab twelve in his second run, but was unable to land the following jump and missed the podium, though he still advanced toward a spot on the US Team. Reno, Nevada’s Chas Guldemond stomped a double back rodeo and back-to-back tens that earned him fifth place overall and second in US Team points. Other standouts included Hakuba, Japan’s Yuki Kadano, who was attempting back-to-back twelves. Though he didn’t land them at Copper, he will undoubtedly bring them to future events. Up and coming ripper from Trondheim, Norway, Emil Ulsletten also produced an impressive run that included a cab ten, switch back twelve, and front ten that landed him in fourth place.

Ståle Sandbech, a young triple-threat on the competition circuit who moves effortlessly between halfpipe, big air, and slopestyle, fell at the top of his first run when he landed off-kilter coming off the battleship, putting the pressure on his second go. Dropping third to last, Ståle pulled out the winning run of the day, including a technical showing in the upper rail section which included a front lip on the top of the 15 ft tall wallride, as well as a cab twelve, backside 1440, and a solid 1080, all executed with clean and definite style. For his efforts, Stale was awarded a 97 from the judges and first place.

Fellow Norwegian, Torstein Horgmo came out of the gate with one of the best lines on the upper rails and followed it up with a strong showing on the jumps, including a switch back hardway 270 on the first rail, switch back nine and back-to-back doublecork tens. Horgmo added a second place podium to his early winter finishes.

Shaun White, who abstained from halfpipe on Saturday to focus on Sunday’s slope competition, dropped in the middle of the start order and put down a run that included a switch back ten, doublecork twelve and double ten. He posted a 90.75 and though he fell at the top of his second run, his first attempt was plenty to earn him a spot on the podium. “I’ve never been so happy to get third place in my life,” said Shaun.

On the women’s side Czech Republic’s Sarka Pancochova dominated the contest with a second run that was both very stylish and loaded with solid tricks. In the upper rail section she impressed with 180s out on the first rail as well as the canon and her jumpline ran switch backside 180, backside 360, frontside 540, all thrown with an unmatched fluidity. Second place went to Zurich, Switzerland’s Isabel Derungs whose crowd-pleasing back rodeo, coupled with back-to-back threes propelled her to the podium. Fellow Swiss rider, Elena Koenz earned third with a strong display that included a front three into a back five. For the American US Team Qualification, Stowe, Vermont’s Ty Walker took fourth place; South Lake Tahoe, California’s Jamie Anderson experienced an uncharacteristically off day and took seventh; Rigby, Idaho’s Jessika Jenson took eighth.

RESULTS:

Men’s Slopestyle Finals
First – Ståle Sandbech
Second – Torstein Horgmo
Third – Shaun White

Women’s Slopestyle Finals
First – Sarka Pancochova
Second – Isabel Derungs
Third – Elena Koenz

Men’s US Snowboard Slopestyle Team Standings
NAME                         BRECKENRIDGE        COPPER          TOTAL
Chas Guldemond       1000                           800                 1800
Shaun White              320                             1000               1320
Sage Kotsenburg       800                             450                 1250
Brandon Davis           600                             500                 1100
Spencer Link              500                             290                 790
Ryan Stassel               180                             600                 780
Eric Beauchemin       400                             240                 640
Brett Moody               220                             240                 460
Nik Baden                  360                             260                 620
Jeremy Thompson    240                             360                 600

Women’s US Snowboard Slopestyle Team Standings
NAME                         BRECKENRIDGE        COPPER          TOTAL
Jamie Anderson         1000                           800                 1800
Ty Walker                  500                             1000               1500
Jessika Jenson            800                             600                 1400
Jordie Karlinksi         600                             400                 1000
Phoebe Novello         360                             450                 800
Karly Shorr                290                             500                 790
Serena Shaw              450                             320                 770
Danika Duffy             400                             260                 660
Erika Vikander          240                             360                 600
Celia Miller                 320                             240                 560
Hana Beaman                        260                             290                 550