Basalt’s Faulhaber fifth in X Games halfpipe skiing as snow makes amplitude difficult
The Aspen Times
Mother Nature — and some unfortunate training injuries — completely changed the vibe around the women’s halfpipe skiing final on Saturday at X Games Aspen.
Still, it’s difficult to get Basalt’s own Hanna Faulhaber too down in the dumps.
“Yeah, I mean, the conditions were rough. I’m grateful to have landed one run. Sadly, I fell on three of my last runs, so it’s all good. I had a blast out here,” she said after finishing fifth in only her second X Games appearance on Saturday. She won bronze in her debut a year ago. “I love it out here so much, and having all the fans out here is amazing. Thank you everyone who came out here to support, and, hopefully, we can do it next year.”
Snow fell through the entirety of the contest at Buttermilk Ski Area, making it difficult to get much speed — and therefore amplitude — in the halfpipe. This included Faulhaber, the 18-year-old Basalt High School graduate, who has made a name for herself for her amplitude that rivals some of the men’s halfpipe skiers.
Although, the biggest omission from the contest wasn’t the airtime but the star power. China’s Eileen Gu and Estonia’s Kelly Sildaru — arguably the biggest names in women’s freeskiing at the moment — both pulled out of the contest after injuring themselves during X Games slopestyle training. Gu was in attendance on Saturday — moving around with crutches — and even gave a hug and quick pep talk to Faulhaber during the contest.
Also missing was Olympic gold medalist Cassie Sharpe, as the Canadian decided to sit out this year’s competition, although she was also in attendance Saturday.
“There’s definitely like five inches (of snow) on all of the walls, so it’s definitely tough to find the speed,” Faulhaber said.
Great Britain’s Zoe Atkin ultimately won. It was her first X Games medal in four attempts after finishing fourth in 2021 and in 2022. Canada’s Rachael Karker was second for her second X Games silver. She now has four medals in four X Games appearances, the other two being bronze.
“Honestly, the last couple X Games,” Atkin said, “I put a lot of pressure on myself because it’s such a big event. Like, I was so honored to even be here in the first place, so I was kind of in my head. But, this year, I really wanted to enjoy myself, put down a good run, feel the energy of all the people who came out, and just have a good time.”
Atkin, like all the other skiers, had to modify her runs because of the snowy conditions.
“I had a lot more sevens in there, and then I had to tone them down to switch threes because there was just no speed to get the rotation around,” she said. “And, I think a lot of the girls did the same thing. It was so hard to even make it out of the pipe.”
Winning bronze was Winter Park’s Svea Irving — her older brother, Birk Irving, is competing in the men’s halfpipe final on Sunday — her first X Games medal in two appearances. She finished seventh in her X Games debut last year.
“Svea Irving is one of my really good friends,” Faulhaber said, “so I’m so stoked to see her in that third-place position.”
Of note, American halfpipe legend Brita Sigourney finished seventh. She announced during the contest that this was going to be her final X Games appearance.
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