After the slopestyle riders took their bow on Wednesday, it was then the turn of the stunt ditch specialists. The Burton US Open halfpipe is never short of drama, so all eyes were on Vail as the semi-finals got underway.
Conspicuous by his absence was newly minted Olympic champion Shaun White, who is probably already practicing his skateboard run for Toyko 2020. Chloe Kim was in town though, looking to cement her dominance over the women’s event.
“Despite managing to squeeze in two more hits than Chloe, Maddie scored less than a point higher”
- Maddie Mastro – 85.87
- Chloe Kim – 85.12
- Xuetong Cai – 83.12
- Haruna Matsumoto – 79.99
- Jiayu Liu – 76.75
- Kelly Clark – 76.37
We’ve talked often about how Chloe is so good these days that even her safety run is often enough for gold. Indeed, in Pyeongchang she was already comfortably leading the field before stepping things up further still in her victory lap.
She was definitely coasting in this qualifying event, with back-to-back 720s making up two of the five hits in her highest-scoring run. Comfortably through to the final, then, but not in the top position.
That honour went to Maddie Mastro, who put down a frontside 900 right out of the gate and followed it up with a backside air, front 7, Haakonflip, crippler, backside 5 and front 5 (with a whiff of Shaun’s ‘Skyhook’ about it) to take the top spot.
Despite managing to squeeze in two more hits than Chloe, Maddie scored less than a point higher. If she’s to fend off the Olympic champ at full steam, she’ll need to find something more in the final.
Chinese rider Xuetong Cai took the third-highest score; her run – featuring an alley-oop air to fakie that we don’t see enough of these days – put her ahead of fellow finalists Haruna Matsumoto, Jiayu Liu and Kelly Clark.
The Americans, Chinese and Japanese riders continue to dominate the women’s event, with only three of the seventeen finalists not coming from one of those countries. There’s no Swiss riders in the top tier at all, which is particularly strange given the quality of the Laax halfpipe, which has propelled the likes of Iouri Podlatchikov, David Habluetzel and Pat Burgener to the upper echelons of the men’s event.