The 2022/23 FIS Snowboard Park & Pipe World Cup tour moves onto Mammoth Mountain (USA) this week for the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix, where we’ll have both slopestyle and halfpipe World Cup action taking to Mammoth’s storied slopes from 1-4 February, 2023.
Slopestyle qualifications will be going down on Wednesday, 1 Feb, followed by halfpipe qualies on Thursday, slopestyle finals on Friday, and then halfpipe finals to close out another big week of action at the Mammoth Toyota U.S. Grand Prix on Saturday. Sunday is a reserve day in case we encounter any weather-related delays.
We’re right in the middle of the heaviest portion of the 2022/23 Park & Pipe season at this point, with Mammoth coming on the heels of the Laax Open and X Games, and leading into the Calgary Snow Rodeo up in Canada. After that? Well, it’s only the biggest event of the season, as roll into Georgia for the Bakuriani 2023 FIS Freestyle Ski, Snowboard and Freeski World Championships.
All of which is to say that these few weeks are a bonanza for snowboard fans around the world, and with good weather forecast throughout the week in Mammoth and a huge snowbase for the crews here to build their world-renowned slopestyle course and halfpipe, we’re expecting this to be another exceptional week in the world of shred.
SLOPESTYLE – WOMEN
Somewhat understandably, some key riders on the World Cup rankings have elected to take this week off from competition following X Games, including the top three on the women’s slopestyle rankings – Zoi Sadowski-Synnott (NZL), Mia Brookes (GBR) and Anna Gasser (AUT).
However, their absence creates an opening for a whole bunch of others, and leading the way will be the Japanese team, with Reira Iwabuchi, Miyabi Onitsuka and Mari Fukada all in a good position to make some moves on the leaderboard this weekend.
Iwabuchi in particular should be riding a high, as she comes into Mammoth fresh off of making history at X Games – becoming the first woman to land a triple cork rotation in competition on her way to winning big air gold there in Aspen.
As you would expect, the host US squad is looking strong this week, with Beijing 2022 slopestyle silver medallist Julia Marino and style god Hailey Langland foremost amongst them. With Marino failing to make finals at the season-opener in Laax and Langland being forced to sit out those finals due to a crash in training, expect those two to be fired up for their final home-soil World Cup of the season.
Annika Morgan (GER), Melissa Peperkamp (NED) and Evy Poppe (BEL) are a few of the other riders likely to make some noise come finals in the women’s field.
SLOPESTYLE – MEN
While men’s slopestyle World Cup leader Marcus Kleveland (NOR) will also be missing this week’s action after taking top spot in X Games big air and knucklehuck – and a runner-up in slopestyle – the host U.S. men’s team will be fielding plenty of star power to make up for Kleveland’s absence.
2020 Mammoth winner Dusty Henricksen finished second to Kleveland in Laax and continues to find another level and a new set of tricks every time he drops in a competition. With both Henricksen and Luke Winklemann on the roster, the U.S. team has two of the most exciting – and stylish – young riders in the world on the squad, and both are progressing at an incredible rate.
Throw in Judd Henkes, Chris Corning, Sean Fitzsimons, Jake Canter and some up-and-comers on hand for a home soil event this week, and the odds are in the U.S. team’s favour for a strong showing here in Mammoth.
The southern hemisphere will be well-represented on the men’s side, with 2021/22 slopestyle crystal globe winner Tiarn Collins and Lyon Farrell of New Zealand, and FIS Snowboard Park & Pipe overall World Cup leader Valentino Guseli all here in Mammoth.
Guseli is fresh off his first X Games medal after a third-place finish in halfpipe, and the busiest man in snowboarding will be dropping on both the pipe and slopestyle this weekend as he continues his quest to become the first Australian to win the overall crystal globe.
Guseli has already won this season’s big air World Cup title, and as he’s the only rider in all of snowboarding competing in all three Park & Pipe events, he’s essentially a lock for the overall. However, could a slopestyle and/or halfpipe globe also be in the cards for the 17-year-old? Neither is out of the question at this point.
Japan, as always, will be coming in hot, with Big Air Chur winner and X Games big air runner-up Takeru Otsuka, Kreischberg big air first and second-place finishers Taiga Hasegawa and Ryoma Kimata (respectively), and Laax fourth-place finisher Hiroto Ogiwara all on hand.
A young Canadian team with Nic Laframboise, Liam Brearley, Cameron Spaulding, Jake Legault, and Finn Finestone could also be a factor this week, while Nicolas Huber (SUI), William Mathisen (SWE) and Niek van der Velden (NED) are also worth keeping an eye on.
HALFPIPE – WOMEN
X Games history was made over the weekend when 14-year-old Gaon Choi (KOR) become the youngest-ever halfpipe winner – younger even than the great Chloe Kim was when she won her first X Games title. Already the reigning Junior World Champion, Choi seems set to become halfpipe snowboarding’s next big thing for a long time to come.
However, Choi still isn’t old enough to compete in World Cup competition, meaning that the rest of the women’s field won’t be looking over their shoulders at the rising star.
Instead, look to Mitsuki Ono of Japan to step things back up after a fifth-place finish at X Games, as the 18-year-old already has a win in Laax and a third-place finish at Copper Mountain (USA) on her resume for this season.
Spain’s Queralt Castellet is set to drop in on her 60th World Cup start this weekend, and while four of those starts have come in Mammoth over the years, the Beijing 2022 silver medallist has yet to hit the podium here in California.
Coming off a silver at X Games last weekend is Maddie Mastro (USA), who will be leading a host squad that also includes rising starts Sonora Alba and Bea Kim, both of whom made finals at their very first World Cup start in Copper Mountain back in December. Mastro has a third and a second-place finish at Mammoth already to her name, and will be looking to jump up to the top of the podium this week in her home state.
Also keep an eye on the great Cai Xuetong, who is in search of her 30th World Cup podium this weekend. No one else in Park & Pipe World Cup history has as many top-3s as the 29-year-old, and with three previous podiums in Mammoth she’s a good bet to add to those totals this week.
Finally, Canada’s Elizabeth Hosking has been perhaps the most impressive rider in training at Mammoth so far this week. Hosking earned her first career World Cup podium at Copper this season, and looks ready to nab her second here in Mammoth.
HALFPIPE – MEN
With no Scotty James (AUS) or Jan Scherrer (SUI) in Mammoth things are wide open on the men’s side of things, and you can expect a heavy battle for the podium with the World Cup halfpipe rankings top two (and last weekend’s X Games top two) choosing to take a break this week.
As we already mentioned above, X Games bronze medal winner Valentino Guseli is very much on hand here in Mammoth and looking to earn his first World Cup halfpipe podium right on the heels of his first X Games top-3.
We can’t really say enough about the season Guseli is putting together here in 2022/23, as it’s really without precedent. Only four other riders in World Cup history have earned podiums in all three of slopestyle, big air, and halfpipe, and none have accomplished the feat in one 12 month period. If Guseli is able to add a World Cup halfpipe top-3 to his list of accomplishments this season it will be a milestone the likes of which we have never seen before.
If he’s able to also end up in the Mammoth slopestyle top-3, to make it podiums in all three Park & Pipe events in one season, then we will be talking about a truly groundbreaking feat indeed.
That feat won’t be easy, however, especially with the Japanese team out in full force this week.
Ruka Hirano currently sits just above Guseli in third on the World Cup halfpipe rankings after his victory in Laax, and the 20-year-old has two previous Mammoth podiums to his name – including second place last season. Along with three-time halfpipe crystal globe winner Yuto Totsuka and super-booster Kaishu Hirano, the Japanese team is as formidable as ever.
Then of course there’s there’s the USA’s own squad, with Lucas Foster, Ryan Wachendorfer, Chase Blackwell and Joey Okesson all looking to rep the host nation with pride at the Mammoth venue where their national team has had so much success in the past.