Blunck returns to World Cup halfpipe action in Park City
Written by Than Acuff
Wednesday, 06 February 2013
Headed to World Championships?
With the X Games over, Aaron Blunck returned to World Cup halfpipe skiing action to compete in the 2013 U.S. Grand Prix in Park City, January 31 to February 2.
The event drew the same athletes as the X Games and then some, and while it doesn’t garner the attention that the X Games do, the level of competition is equal to, if not higher, than the X Games.
In fact, the event drew close to 75 halfpipe skiers vying for crucial FIS points as well as AFP (Association of Freeskiing Professional) tour points and searching for a shot at the World Championships in Norway in March. Not to mention athletes making a name for themselves when U.S. Ski Team officials decide who will be going to Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
Blunck admits he was wiped out from the X Games experience and continued to feel some pressure to perform, making for a shaky start to the week leading up to the Park City World Cup event.
“It was a little stressful because I knew I wanted to do well and prove myself—prove I can still do well,” says Blunck. “I was pretty run down and training did not go my way at all.”
Blunck struggled with the halfpipe in Park City and finished up his training Tuesday afternoon, questioning whether or not he would even qualify for the finals of the event. But a rest day on Wednesday and a chairlift ride with Mike Jankowski, head U.S. Snowboarding and U.S. Freeskiing coach, on Thursday morning helped turn Blunck around.
“He said, ‘Just go do what you do. You have the tricks down,’” explains Blunck.
Following the rest and words from Jankowski, Blunck put the finishing touches on his final training run Thursday morning and was refreshed and ready to go when he slid into the start area for his first of two qualifier runs.
He put down two solid qualifier runs to finish ninth and make the final cut of 12 skiers in the finals on Saturday, February 2.
As Blunck and his coaches discussed his finals strategy, he decided it was time to mix up his routine and open his first run with a double cork 1260.
He did that, and then some, to put down his top scoring run ever in competition of 91.4, a score that would hold up for a fifth-place finish overall, scoring more AFP points to move him into fourth in the overall points standings worldwide.
“It was pretty huge,” says Blunck. “It was good to prove my consistency and a pretty good confidence booster for me.”
Blunck heads to Russia on Saturday, February 9 for a week of training before the third World Cup event of the season in Sochi, and a preview of the Olympic halfpipe venue.
“I think I’m back on it,” says Blunck. “I definitely have a few tricks in my head I want to try and depending on how I feel about it, and how my coaches feel about it, I’d like to try them in Russia.”
In addition, Blunck believes he may be named to the U.S. team with X Games gold medalist David Wise and X Games silver medalist Torin Yater-Wallace headed to the World Championships in Norway in March.