Star Snowboarders Shine In Busy Weekend For U.S. Winter Athletes
by Chrös McDougall
Jamie Anderson competes in the Women's Snowboard Slopestyle Final during the Dew Tour Copper Mountain 2020 on Feb. 09, 2020 in Copper Mountain, Colorado.
It was a banner weekend for two of Team USA’s biggest starts. Two-time Olympic slopestyle champ Jamie Anderson was back for her first world cup in nearly a year to win her fifth Laax Open in Switzerland on Friday. With a strong second run featuring a cab double 900 Weddle, Anderson overtook New Zealand’s Zoi Sadowski-Synott for the win. Jake Canter took sixth on the men’s side.
On Saturday it was Chloe Kim’s turn. The 2018 Olympic halfpipe champ was back after an even longer break — in her case since March 2019 — to win the women’s halfpipe title in Laax. Although she didn’t attempt her signature back-to-back 1080s, she did hit a frontside 1080 in her winning second run in the finals. Taylor Gold was the top U.S. man at ninth.
Meanwhile, in Chiesa in Valmalenco, Italy, three-time Olympian Faye Gulini recorded second-place finishes in consecutive snowboardcross world cups Saturday and Sunday, matching her career best. Now in her 14th season on the world cup circuit, Gulini is tied for the lead in the season standings.
Fellow Olympian Hagen Kearney placed fourth in Saturday’s men’s race. On Sunday, 2014 Olympic bronze medalist Alex Deibold was second across the line in the small final to finish sixth overall, while Kearney and Jake Vedder both reached the big final and took third and fourth, respectively.
Winter Vinecki and Chris Lillis continued a hot streak for U.S. aerials skiers this weekend, with Vinecki earning her first world cup win in the women’s competition and Lillis claiming second place in the men’s competition under the lights Saturday in Moscow. Vinecki landed a double-full full to score 94.11 points in her winning jump. Fellow American Ashley Caldwell was just off the podium in fifth.
“I just can’t believe it,” Vinecki told U.S. Ski & Snowboard. “I am so excited! It’s been a long road coming back from injuries and being so close to podiums so many times. I don’t know how many top sixes I have had and so to finally have that podium moment, let alone that first place is incredible.”
Their results follow a strong performance last weekend in Yaroslavl, Russia, where Megan Nick also scored her first career win, Caldwell finished second in a separate singles competition and then the U.S. reached the podium for the first time in a team event, finishing third.
Brittany Bowe shined for the U.S. long track team as its shortened season got underway this weekend in the hub location in Heerenveen, Netherlands. Bowe opened the event on Saturday with her first win in a 1,500-meter race since the 2018-19 season, and then came back on Sunday to win a 1,000. She’s the two-time defending world cup champ in the 1,000 and a former world champion and world cup champion at both distances. Bowe also competed in 500-meter races both days, with her best finish coming on Sunday when she finished fifth. Fellow two-time Olympian Joey Mantia was the next best U.S. finished on the weekend, taking seventh in the men’s 1,500.
Bobsled & Skeleton
Kaillie Humphries and Elana Meyers Taylor are setting themselves up to be top contenders for the inaugural Olympic women’s monobob competition next year after Humphries won her second consecutive world cup race on Saturday in Koenigssee, Germany, with Meyers Taylor coming in second. Last week’s win came in the first-ever world cup event for the one-person sled.
The two Olympic medalists were back at it on Sunday, with Meyers Taylor teaming with Sylvia Hoffman to take third in the two-woman event, while Humphries and Lauren Gibbs were sixth. Meyers Taylor has now reached the podium in each of her last two two-woman races.
In Friday’s skeleton races, four-time Olympian Katie Uhlaender was seventh, marking her second top-10 finish in a row. Austin Florian was the top U.S. man in 14th. Codie Bascue and Kris Horn finished 11th in two-man bobsled Saturday, marking Bascue’s career best finish in two-man. The four-man sleds struggled on Sunday, however, with Geoff Gadbois piloting his team to 20th and Bascue’s sled finishing 22nd.
Breezy Johnson got the weekend off to a strong start when she finished fourth in the women’s downhill at Crans-Montana, Switzerland. It was her fourth third-place finish in four downhills so far this season, putting her in an elite group of Americans to achieve that: Lindsey Vonn, Julia Mancuso and Picabo Street. Johnson was unable to make it five in a row, though, finishing fifth in Saturday’s downhill. Racing in the Swiss Alps wrapped up with a super-G on Sunday. Johnson missed a gate and did not finish, and Isabella Wright was the top U.S. finisher in 28th place.
The men, meanwhile, were in Kitzbuehel, Austria, for the iconic Hahnenkamm downhill. Travis Ganong was the top U.S. finisher in Friday’s race, taking 11th on an unusual day without the 80,000 raucous fans who are usually there. Fellow American Ryan Cochran-Siegle, the top U.S. downhiller so far this season, and who won one of the training runs last week, fell on the massive Hausbergkante jump and went into the netting. After further evaluation in the hospital it was determined he sustained a minor cervical spine fracture, and he’s expected to miss at least six weeks. Weather pushed the next two races back a day. Ganong was 12th in Sunday’s downhill, and racing in Kitzbuehel wraps up with a super-G on Monday.
The U.S. women broke out in a big way Sunday in Innsbruck, Austria, with Summer Britcher leading a pack of four Americans among the top 15. Britcher, a two-time Olympian, finished third to score Team USA’s first podium finish of the world cup season. Ashley Farquharson was next in eighth, followed by Emily Sweeney in 12th and Brittney Arndt in 15th. Britcher’s medal was the first for a U.S. slider since the team joined the world cup season in 2021.
Crashes marred the U.S. performances on Saturday. Tucker West went from ninth after the opening run to failing to finish the second. In his absence Jonny Gustafson proved to be the top American at 18th, followed by Olympic silver medalist Chris Mazdzer in 19th. Mazdzer also teamed with Jayson Terdiman in the doubles contest Saturday, but they rolled their sled late in the run and finished 24th.
Coming off a historic Tour de Ski win earlier this month, Team USA’s Jessie Diggins was back for a 15K skiathlon on Saturday in Lahti, Finland, and finished fifth. Teammate Rosie Brennan was 11th. The results put them 1-2 in the overall world cup standings. Gus Schumacher was the top U.S. man in the skiathlon, taking 18th. Racing in Lahti wrapped up with relays on Sunday, with the U.S. women finishing fifth and the men seventh.
Around the World
In skicross, Tyler Wallasch reached the quarterfinals in Saturday’s world cup in Idre Fjäll, Sweden, then got to the small final on Sunday and won to ultimately finish fifth.
The biathlon world cup season continued in Antholz-Anterselva, Italy. Susan Dunklee had the top individual finish, taking 20th in Thursday’s 15K race. The U.S. women’s relay was 13th on Sunday.
Nordic combined athlete Taylor Fletcher finished 24th in the men’s individual Gundersen large hill/10K event in Lahti, Finland.
The men’s ski jumpers were also in Lahti, where they finished ninth in Saturday’s team competition; Andrew Urlaub was 45th individually on Sunday.
Women’s ski jumpers were in Ljubno, Slovenia, where the U.S. took 12th in Saturday’s team event and Paige Jones took 31st in Sunday’s individual event.