Basalt’s Hanna Faulhaber wins first invitation to X Games Aspen in halfpipe skiing

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Basalt’s Hanna Faulhaber practices before the women’s freeski halfpipe qualifying for the United States Grand Prix and Land Rover World Cup on Friday March 19, 2021 at the Buttermilk Ski Area in Aspen.
Austin Colbert / The Aspen Times

Hanna Faulhaber’s dream season just got a little more dreamy. The Basalt High School high school student received her first official invitation to compete at the X Games Aspen in January, a major milestone for the rising star of halfpipe skiing.

The 17-year-old made the announcement on Instagram Tuesday night, with photos of herself as a toddler dressed in bright colors, hanging out in the halfpipe at the Buttermilk ski area ahead of a final X Games competition. .

“As you can tell, X Games has been a dream of mine ever since I was a little girl in my purple onesie,” Faulhaber wrote on Instagram. “This is one of the main reasons I participate in the halfpipe. Thank you @xgames for making my dream come true.



The invitation is hardly surprising given Faulhaber’s recent success. On Friday she finished third at the Copper Mountain Dew Tour for her first major podium, and a week earlier she had finished fifth at the Copper Grand Prix. Both of these events were official qualifiers for the US Olympic team, and the Dew Tour podium virtually secures Faulhaber a bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics with only one halfpipe qualification remaining.

The X Games are not a World Cup or an Olympic qualification and often include a much smaller group of athletes. With a month before the event returns to Buttermilk, Faulhaber has been added to a roster that currently includes seven more for the women’s halfpipe ski competition, scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, January 21, the first night of the Xs. Games.



The roster also includes rising Chinese-American sensation Eileen Gu, Estonian superstar Kelly Sildaru and reigning Olympic champion Cassie Sharpe of Canada. Briton Zoe Atkin, Canadian Rachael Karker, Chinese Fenghui Li and Californian Brita Sigourney complete the current roster.

The US Olympic ski and snowboard teams will likely be announced around or before the X Games, with the Winter Games set to begin February 4 in Beijing. Based on the three qualifiers so far, Faulhaber and Sigourney look set to make the trip to China. After that, the roster remains relatively fluid, there is only the Mammoth Mountain Grand Prix January 6-9 to qualify.

Faulhaber’s recent streak of strong performances dates back to last spring, when she occupied a surprising fourth place at the world championships, also held in Buttermilk in March. A week later, at the Aspen Grand Prix and the US Olympic team’s first qualifier, she had to forfeit after a serious fall in training, but made up for it with her performances at Copper Mountain. over the past two weeks.

Faulhaber, who grew up skiing with the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club, is set to add his name to a list of recent local athletes who have competed in the X Games and the Olympics. Top of that list is Alex Ferreira, reigning Olympic halfpipe silver medalist and two-time X Games Aspen champion. After winning back-to-back Copper Grand Prix and Dew Tour victories, Ferreira is among the first gold medalists at the X Games and the upcoming Olympics.

Torin Yater-Wallace of Roaring Fork Valley, who has since retired from competitive halfpipe skiing, is an X Games icon who competed in the 2014 and 2018 Olympics. Cassidy Jarrell of Aspen, who remains at Heart of the race for Olympic teams even though he will need a magical downhill or two in Mammoth to get to China, made his X Games debut Aspen as a halfpipe skier in 2020.

Hanna Faulhaber poses for a portrait at the base of the Aspen Snowmass Freeskiing Open course on Wednesday, February 12, 2020, at the Buttermilk ski area.
Kelsey Brunner / The Aspen Times

Halfpipe skiing has only been an Olympic sport since the 2014 Games – halfpipe snowboarding made its debut in 1998 – with David Wise of Nevada winning both Olympic gold medals on the men’s side. Maddie Bowman of Tahoe won Olympic gold in women in 2014, followed by Sharpe’s victory in 2018. Bowman has since retired from the sport.

The next stop for halfpipe skiers is a World Cup event in Calgary which will be held around New Years. Faulhaber said she plans to compete; Canadian competitions are not official qualifications for the US Olympic team. After that, the athletes will travel to Mammoth and then to the X Games, before the lucky few travel to China for the Olympics.

acolbert@aspentimes.com

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