Pain doesn’t stop Segal | VailDaily.com
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Pain doesn’t stop Segal

Adam Boffey
Mark Fox/Special to the DailyMaiko Hara of Japan finished fifth overall in the women's slopestyle semifinals Thursday, advancing to today's finals at the U.S. Freeskiing Open at Copper Mountain.
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COPPER MOUNTAIN – Australian freeskier Anna Segal is one of those athletes who seems to thrive on physical pain. Hours before she was scheduled to compete in the women’s slopestyle semifinals at the U.S. Freeskiing Open Wednesday afternoon at Copper Mountain, Segal smashed her head into a rail while practicing.The result was a jarring headache and at least three facial cuts, but that didn’t stop Segal from earning the top semifinals score of 84.75 – a full 10 points more than the No. 2 qualifier, Kristi Leskinen.”I was pretty banged up at that moment,” Segal said. “I had to get my positive energies up (in order to compete).”Although Segal opted to avoid the pain-inflicting rail during competition, she said the incident didn’t spook her too much.”I’ve had a lot of crashes in my time,” Segal said. “So, unless it’s a really big one, I can usually get back on course quickly.”Segal is competing in her first U.S. Open, while Leskinen is in her eighth. The veteran freeskier was decidedly conservative in her approach on Thursday.

“I’ve been in the sport for such a long time that I come in knowing what I’m going to do,” said Leskinen, who is pre-qualified for the halfpipe. “I don’t go crazy because everyone else is.”Leskinen, who has competed in the Open’s slopestyle finals in years past, was unable to pre-qualify for this year’s finals due to an injury. She didn’t seem to mind.”I’m glad to get the practice runs,” she said. “With (200) or 300 people trying to qualify, we only get to practice from 8 to 9 in the morning and then maybe we get one more run in the middle of the day. Getting two extra runs is a big deal.”Idaho’s Sophia Schwartz, a U.S. Open newcomer like Segal, was the third qualifier with a score of 73 points, tying Frenchwoman Vanessa Colletta.”This is the only freeride event I’ve ever done outside of USSA,” said Schwartz, who attends high school in New Hampshire. “It’s kind of intimidating, but it’s fun.”A frightening momentSegal wasn’t the only one beat up by Copper’s rails on Thursday.Former U.S. Open finalist Ashley Battersby sent ski patrollers into action by falling on the first rail slide of her second run.

Battersby’s ensuing leg injury not only prompted a 20-minute delay in Thursday’s action, it also cast a solemn mood on the crowd, which parted at the bottom of the Catalyst Terrain Park to make way for a loaded toboggan.With the sun gone and temperatures steadily falling, roughly 10 skiers took runs after the accident.Shidasha Holmstead, the sixth and final qualifier, was one of them.”I was a little bit nervous after seeing what happened to (Battersby),” Holmstead said. “But I usually don’t fall, so I just tried to keep thinking, ‘This is another day – just get down the hill and do what I do all the time. … I did the best I could.”Holmstead’s qualifying score of 67.75 came on her first run.Thursday’s six qualifiers will join 12 pre-qualified skiers in today’s final, which is set for noon.Adam Boffey can be contacted at (970) 668-4634, or at aboffey@summitdaily.com.

Women’s Qualifiers1. Anna Segal84.752. Kristi Leskinen74.253. Sophia Schwartz733. Vanessa Colletta735. Maiko Hara70.756. Shidasha Holmstead67.75


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