Golden Peak halfpipe ready and launching |

Golden Peak halfpipe ready and launching

Bailey Johnson styles it out of Vail's halfpipe during a USSA competition at Golden Peak on Friday. Visibility was poor with flat light and snow flurries, but the weather didn't seem to keep these kids from taking flight out of the pipe.
Townsend Bessent | |

VAIL — The 22-foot halfpipe walls needed plenty of blue paint on Friday as snowy skies greeted competitors at Golden Peak.

Rocky Mountain Freeskiing Championships, an Association of Freeskiing Professionals certified event, marked the opening an Olympic-sized halfpipe that also hosts the Burton U.S. Open. The fact that Friday’s competition was a bronze-level event in the Association of Freeskiing Professionals tier system is a first for Vail, welcoming skiers into a halfpipe that was otherwise mainly known as the snowboarder’s venue thanks to the Burton U.S. Open, which prompted Vail to invest in a 22-foot halfpipe for the first time ever three years ago.

“It was great to compete at a little event here in Vail,” said Broby Leeds, who grew up in Vail and will compete in the European X Games in Oslo, Norway, later this season. “The halfpipe was riding great.”

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Leeds, who won both of Friday’s halfpipe competitions, was among of who’s who of local freeskiers at the event. Jake Cummings was the announcer for the event — he’s a Vail resident and was a former halfpipe competitor and Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athlete; and Avon resident Taylor Seaton, who will compete at X Games in Aspen on Jan. 28, was a judge.

Seaton was on a distinguished panel of judges which Ski & Snowboard Club Vail freeskiing program director Elana Chase pulled together in order to get the event certified by the Association of Freeskiing Professionals. Joining him was Ian Meader, who has judged at Dew Tour and X Games; Erin Young, who has judged Dew Tour; and Steele Spence, who has judged at X Games and World Cup events.

While you’ll open catch Spence judging Association of Freeskiing Professionals platinum level events, this weekend’s bronze level event at Vail was a chance for him to see some up and coming talent.

“And with the Association of Freeskiing Professionals sanctioning, it brought in some more national competitors,” Spence said.


Among those national competitors was 13-year-old Cody LaPlante, of California, who won Friday’s big air comp. LaPlante said Friday’s competition was a chance for him to get some Association of Freeskiing Professionals points and increase his chances of making it to junior nationals.

“It was actually a double comp. It was technically two halfpipe competitions, so it was really great for Association of Freeskiing Professionals,” he said.

On Friday, the weather made the competition difficult for LaPlante and the rest of the competitors. Visibility was low and blowing wind and snow complicated things and made it harder for the athletes to get air out of the pipe.

But the only complaints were about the weather, not the halfpipe itself.

“The Vail Park Crew did a great job getting it all shaped and getting it painted up nice,” Chase said. “They really made it happen.”

The event also included a slopestyle component on Thursday and a big air event on Friday. It was a sell-out event, which took Chase by surprise.

“I didn’t really advertise anywhere because I figured just the Colorado kids would come, but it was listed on the Association of Freeskiing Professionals website, so people that do their homework saw it there and said, ‘This looks like a good deal,’” she said. “Out of Colorado kids heard about it and started showing up.”

While it was closed Friday due to the competition, the halfpipe is now open to the general public, as well.

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