Under watchful eye of the Ski Boss, Eagle County’s familiar faces make finals in Copper
COPPER MOUNTAIN — Avon’s Taylor Seaton squeaked into finals at the first big halfpipe competition of the season on Wednesday, Dec. 5. He will compete on Friday, Dec. 7, alongside Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy graduate Aaron Blunck and Ski & Snowboard Club Vail alumnus Alex Ferreira at the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix competition.
The event will be broadcasted live on nbcsports.com starting at 11 a.m. on Friday.
While Ferreira, who took home silver at the 2018 Olympics, said he was the most relaxed he has ever been before a halfpipe competition, Blunck said he was feeling the nerves.
“Something about the first comp of the year, it always does it to me,” Blunck said. “I wasn’t feeling anything at all and then as soon as I was at the top waiting to drop in, the nerves hit me.”
Seaton, a veteran skier who started competing on the World Cup circuit in the 2008-09 season, said his only nervousness was if he was going to maintain speed throughout his run.
“It’s tricky out there with all the snow we’ve had in Colorado,” he said. “I wasn’t thrilled with my run but I’m happy to make it through to finals, that’s for sure.”
THE BOSS IS WATCHING
On Seaton’s second run, he tried to land as high as he could on the halfpipe wall — known as the transition — to generate more speed. He ended up playing it too close, hitting the top deck of the halfpipe with his ski and crashing to the bottom. His score from the first run held on for fifth in the best-of-2 contest, where the top five skiers advance to finals.
Seaton said he was uninjured in the crash.
“I always play it as close as I can with the transitions,” said the 28-year-old Seaton. “If you land them well it creates the least amount of shock on the body, which is important the longer you’re in the sport. But sometimes, going for no shock, you hit the deck and then it’s way too much shock.”
Watching from the audience, halfpipe legend Tanner “Ski Boss” Hall said he likes to see good transitions rewarded by the judges, and missed transitions penalized.
“They shouldn’t be rewarding if you land in the flat bottom, that’s for sure,” Hall said. “That won’t help these kids to have long careers.”
A long career in skiing is something Hall now thinks of often, as his own career has seen a resurgence in recent years with fans saying some of the best skiing they’ve ever seen is on display in Hall’s recent film, “Here After,” which he filmed last season at age 34.
Seaton also had a part in “Here After.”
“Having Tanner at the pipe comp today stoking everybody out was a nice bonus for the athletes, for sure,” Seaton said. “He brings a level of enthusiasm to the sport that’s unmatched.”
Hall is currently in Colorado filming once again for a new project, and plans on competing on the Freeride World Tour this season.
Rita’s two closest peers have climbed the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) peak 21 times each, but both of them have retired from mountain climbing.