HomeSports Aaron Blunck opens season on halfpipe podium at Copper
Aaron Blunck opens season on halfpipe podium at Copper
Written by Than Acuff
Wednesday, 12 December 2012
Christian Allen second in AFP rankings worldwide
Airin’ Aaron Blunck made his 2013 halfpipe skiing debut stepping onto the podium, beating out the likes of Tanner Hall and Gus Kenworthy at the North Face Park and Pipe Open Series (PPOS) at Copper Mountain Saturday and Sunday, December 8-9. Crested Butte Mountain Resort athlete Christian Allen finished in eighth place and is currently ranked second in the Association for Freeskiing Professionals (AFP) rankings worldwide, while Blunck sits in eighth in the rankings.
Blunck’s lead up to the 2013 season has been frantic and focused mixing in schoolwork with an extensive regimen of training. The preseason workouts peaked with a trip to the U.S. Olympic Center for Excellence in Park City, Utah in October for a series of tests to design his training for the season. “It was really cool because we had all of these crazy things going on,” explains Blunck. “You would be running on a treadmill and these machines would be testing your oxygen, lactic acid and how quickly you recover.” Once the halfpipe at Copper was built, Blunck was itching to drop in and made the most of it, skiing in the halfpipe nearly every day as he prepared for the upcoming event. “My coach tried to tell me to ease into it, but for me it was go time,” says Blunck. Following an early morning training session with the U.S. Ski Team coaches on Wednesday before the competition, Blunck’s focus and confidence peaked. “Right then I knew I was ready,” says Blunck. He kicked off the event in solid fashion, placing second in his preliminary heat to advance to the finals on Sunday, shedding some pre-event nerves on his first move. “Once I landed my first jump I had so much pressure off my chest,” says Blunck. His preliminary effort jettisoned Blunck to the finals on Sunday, where he rattled off one of the top runs of the competition in his opening round of two total rounds. “That was definitely one of my best runs ever,” says Blunck. “That run was almost flawless for me.” The effort allowed Blunck to shoot the lock off on his second run and try out his new move, a double cork 1260. While he didn’t pull it off, his first run was good enough for third place, earning his biggest paycheck ever, $1,250. More important, the Copper event was a FIS sanctioned Nor-Am Cup event, with athletes earning FIS points that count toward a potential berth to the 2014 Winter Olympic games in Sochi, Russia. As for Sochi, Blunck is unsure, with four spots open from the United States—one of the strongest fields in the world. “The U.S., Canadian and French teams are the toughest teams to make,” says Blunck. “I’m hoping for 2014 but if that doesn’t work out, definitely 2018.” He plans on going for it, competing in three other World Cup events this winter to gain more FIS points and crack the top 30 in the FIS rankings, the first requirement for an Olympic berth. Allen is coming into the 2013 season stronger than ever as well, with a rigorous preseason-training regimen. “I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in this year,” says Allen. He had a bit more on his plate heading into the Copper event and while he admits it provided an early warm-up for the season, he did have a goal in mind. “I saw it as a warm-up but I also really wanted to do well because I’m on the bubble for making the Dew Tour,” explains Allen. Allen reached the finals in Copper and after a good first run he looked to up the ante on his second run but things didn’t go as planned. “I had a good first run but not as good as I wanted,” says Allen. “On my second run I went big on my first jump but didn’t land it.” Allen is a bit closer to the Sochi dream than Blunck with a higher ranking and believes it’s well within reach. “I think I have a pretty good shot,” says Allen. “If they [the U.S.] take four or five skiers, my chances are really good. I’m working really hard and just got to get a few things dialed in for the comps.” As of press time, Allen was still waiting to hear if he would be competing in the Dew Tour stop at Breckenridge December 13-16. Both Allen and Blunck will compete at the second World Cup stop of the season at Copper, January 10-13. They also have plans to make the World Cup event later this season at the Olympic venue in Sochi, Russia. You can catch Blunck’s, and possibly Allen’s, performances at Copper on TV later this month as CBS Sports Network will air coverage of the Copper event on December 23 at 11 a.m. MST and again on December 25 (time TBD).