World Cup notebook: Seaton returns to World Cup at Mammoth Mountain Grand Prix halfpipe competition
Mogul skiers prepare for Deer Valley World Cup and Kai Owens is back on snow
Avon skier Taylor Seaton returned to World Cup competition on Wednesday, placing 16th in the qualifier round of the Toyota Grand Prix freeski halfpipe World Cup at Mammoth Mountain. The 32-year-old, who missed the 2021-22 season after a November 2021 training camp injury in Austria required ACL, MCL and meniscus reconstruction, posted on social media in advance of his return to the pipe.
“Haven’t competed in a pipe comp since 2021,” his Instagram story read on Monday night. “Excited and nervous to be dropping into the Mammoth Mountain Grand Prix.”
In 2017, Seaton took third at the Mammoth Mountain World Cup event — one of his three World Cup podiums — and he placed seventh in 2020.
In Wednesday’s first run, two-time Olympic gold medalist David Wise posted the day’s top score (91.00). Seaton managed an 11.50 in the first run, but returned with a 66.00 in run No. 2. He was the 10th American in a heavily North American-saturated field, but his 16th-place overall mark did not qualify him for Friday’s 10-skier final.
Owens returns to snow and mogul stars descend on Deer Valley
Seaton wasn’t the only local World Cup athlete to recently return to snow. Kai Owens, who suffered labrum and ACL injuries at the end of last season, made a few turns at Deer Valley this week.
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“Just a couple runs of mellow flats, but it felt so good! So lucky to have had my first day surrounded by my close friends!” she posted on Instagram on Tuesday.
“Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me and helped me stay patient through this process. More to come soon!”
Owens, who is in her first year at the University of Utah, will be supporting her U.S. teammates at the Intermountain Freestyle moguls World Cup at Deer Valley Thursday through Saturday. In the first World Cup of 2023 in Val St. Come, Canada on Jan. 27, Jaelin Kauf was the top-placing American in the moguls in third, while SSCV’s Liz Lemley placed ninth. In the dual moguls the next day, Kauf was fourth, Lemley finished eighth and Tess Johnson was 13th.
Lemley is currently fifth and third in the moguls and dual moguls cup standings, respectively, while Johnson is 17th and 11th.
Nichols 11th, Mawn takes win in Freeride World Tour season opener
Vail skier Jack Nichols placed 11th out of 22 riders in the Freeride World Tour season opener in Baqueira Beret on Jan. 29. Windswept, recrystallized snow at the top and light powder lower down made for tricky conditions at the Baciver venue.
“Competition in @baqueira_beret didn’t quite go as planned, but happy to sneak away with 11th,” he posted on Instagram. Nichols did not respond when reached for comment, but he’s likely busy preparing for the second FWT stop. The weather window for the Ordino Arcalis, Andorra competition was expanded as temperature increases are expected for the weekend. On Tuesday, the competition date was finalized for Feb. 2, as “Thursday looks like the optimal day to have the safest and most fun conditions for the riders to drop in,” according to an FWT press release.
Former Breckenridge resident Michael Mawn won the snowboard competition at Baqueira Beret for the second straight year with an impressive technical line and top-air, which he landed into a tight couloir.
“It’s so good to be back here; this is my favorite stop, and the fans are so welcoming. An avalanche took out my planned line, and so I had to pick out another one, which I was a bit on edge about,” Mawn told FWT. “But I found some good snow and went full throttle – I was really pushing it! I just felt really happy to be here with everyone.”
Vail’s Blake Moller, who won the overall snowboard title last year, did not compete.