Mouth-watering freestyle skiing and snowboard action on the cards this weekend

What's happening this week in the world of freestyle skiing and snowboard? The week of 6 December sees FIS World Cup events contested in snowboard cross, snowboard halfpipe, ski cross, freeski halfpipe and freeski aerials.

By Ockert de Villiers
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

A weekend of mouth-watering freeski and snowboarding action is highlighted by the opening legs of the freeski and snowboarding halfpipe World Cups in Copper Mountain in the United States. 

Some of the global superstars, including three-time Olympic champion Shaun White, will be in action as they look to build momentum ahead of the 2022 Beijing Winter Games.

Here's a look ahead to the events this week.

Snowboard Halfpipe World Cup
Where: Copper Mountain, United States
When: 9-11 December
Events: Halfpipe (men and women)

The world’s top snowboarders will be champing at the bit for some halfpipe action after last season’s World Cup competition was reduced to one event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first of three FIS Snowboard halfpipe World Cup events will kick off with the US Grand Prix at Copper Mountain in the United States, providing a launchpad for athletes to find their groove ahead of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Games.

American legend Shaun White will launch his campaign for a fifth Winter Olympics berth in earnest on home snow in Copper Mountain. The three-time Olympic halfpipe gold medallist will throw down the gauntlet to some of the top challengers to his crown.

Chief among them are reigning world champion Yūto Totsuka and Ayumu Hirano, who finished second behind White in Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018.

Chloe Kim, the dominant force in the women’s halfpipe, will not be competing in the season opener, which opens the door for the rest of a quality field.

Chinese riders Cai Xuetong and Liu Jiayu will be among the leading contenders, along with Spain’s Queralt Castellet.

Snowboard Cross World Cup
Where:
Montafon, Austria
When: 9-11 December
Events: Snowboard Cross (men and women), Mixed Snowboard Cross Team

Czech snowboard ace Eva Samkova will be looking to continue her excellent run at the second leg of the Snowboard Cross World Cup. She made a solid start to her campaign, claiming victory at the season’s opener World Cup and Beijing 2022 test event in Secret Garden, China, two weeks ago.

The two-time Olympic medallist held off a strong challenge from Italian arch-rival Michela Moioli to earn the crystal globe last season. Moioli, the reigning Olympic champion, had to be content with third place finishing behind Great Britain’s Charlotte Bankes.

She made a stellar start to her campaign, claiming victory at the season’s opener World Cup and Beijing 2022 test event in Secret Garden, China, two weeks ago.

Austrian favourite Alessandro Haemmerle will fancy his chances in the men’s competition racing in his home town. The three-time crystal globe winner will also have his tail up following his victory in Secret Garden. Italy’s Omar Visintin should give him a run for his money after finishing second in China. Nick Baumgartner of the United States rounded off the podium with another Austrian Jakob Dusek finishing fourth.

Eva Samkova
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Freeski halfpipe World Cup
Where: Copper Mountain, United States
When: 9-10 December
Events: Freeski halfpipe (men and women)

Copper Mountain will also host the first leg of the Freeski Halfpipe World Cup where a new generation of young female athletes is looking to make their mark. 

Reigning world champion Eileen Gu of the People’s Republic of China and 2019 global champion Kelly Sidaru of Estonia will be among the favourites to take the spoils in Copper Mountain. They will have strong competition in the form of Canada’s Rachael Karker and Zoe Atkin of Great Britain, who won silver and bronze at this year’s world championships. 

Home favourite and former world champion Aaron Blunck will lead his nation’s charge in the men’s competition. He will come up against Pyeongchang 2018 bronze medallist Nico Porteous of New Zealand.

Eileen Gu
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Ski Cross World Cup
Where: Val Thorens, France
When: 9-12 December
Events: Ski Cross (men and women)

The next leg of the Ski Cross World Cup will move to France, where Olympic bronze medallist Sergey Ridzik of Russia will be targeting back-to-back victories. Ridzik won the test event in Secret Garden, which launched him to the top of the leader board. 

Reigning Olympic champion Brady Leman of Canada will be looking to go one better after finishing in second place in China. 

Women’s world champion Sandra Naeslund of Sweden lay down an early marker with a win on the first leg of the World Cup and will line up as the one to beat in France. She beat Swiss superstar Fanny Smith into second place, with Marielle Berger-Sabbatel of France finishing third.

Freeski Aerials World Cup
Where: Ruka, Finland
When: 10-11 December
Events: Freeski Aerials (men and women), Freeski Mixed Aerials team

Ruka will again play host to some of the world’s best freestyle skiers a week after the season kicked off at the same venue.

Kong Fangyu of the People’s Republic of China clinched the women’s title on the first leg, with Russia’s Maxim Burov topping the men’s podium.

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