Freestyle nationals: Hudak, Wise rule halfpipe


Defending ski halfpipe champion Jen Hudak, who grew up skiing just down the road at Okemo Mountain, made it 2-for-2 Thursday at Killington Resort as she won her second consecutive halfpipe gold medal on day one of the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships, edging the top two women’s skiers from last week’s World Junior Championships. It was an exact repeat of the 2006 halfpipe podium at nationals.
    “This is like coming home,” said Hudak, who was born in Hamden, Connecticut. “I grew up skiing at Okemo [less than 20 miles away] and Killington is as close to being home as I can get without being at Okemo. I skied here a lot when I was younger.”
    David Wise, also just back from world juniors in Switzerland where he had the top U.S. men’s result (sixth), captured the men’s title by less than a point at Bear Mountain.


KILLINGTON, Vermont — Defending ski halfpipe champion Jen Hudak, who grew up skiing just down the road at Okemo Mountain, made it 2-for-2 Thursday at Killington Resort as she won her second consecutive U.S. halfpipe title on Day One of the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships, edging the top two women’s skiers from last week’s Junior World Championships. It was an exact repeat of the 2006 halfpipe podium at nationals.
    David Wise, also just back from world juniors in Switzerland where he had the top U.S. men’s result (sixth), captured the men’s title by less than a point at Bear Mountain.
    Versus will broadcast coverage from the championships Sunday, April 1, at 3 p.m. ET with coverage of the Nature Valley Freestyle Challenge dual moguls event at 4 p.m.
    Competing in gusting winds, Hudak received 34.6 points on the first of her best-of-two runs. Sophia Schwartz, silver medalist in halpipe at junior worlds, took silver Thursday as bright sun and a cloudless sky lighted up the pipe; her second run was worth 29.6 points while world junior champion Kim Sharp took the bronze medal with a final run with 26.5.
    “A little self-defense,” Hudak said with a broad grin as she held onto her victory flowers and $3,400 check for first place. “We were hearing freezing rain yesterday, so I visualized a nice sunny halfpipe … and a sunny halfpipe it was, so I’ll take credit for it.
    “This is like coming home,” said Hudak, who was born in Hamden, Connecticut. “I grew up skiing at Okemo [less than 20 miles away] and Killington is as close to being home as I can get without being at Okemo. I skied here a lot when I was younger.” She moved to Park City, Utah, in the summer of 2004 to take advantage of training opportunities at Utah Olympic Park, where the U.S. freestyle ski team trains much of the preseason.
    She added, “I tried to ski as best as I could, and it worked out. I was really impressed with the halfpipe — Killington did a good job — and, really, with all the skiers. I thought everybody put on a really good show, so it was awesome.”
    Wise, a 16-year-old high school junior who was silver medalist a year ago at Killington, said he was battling a little jet lag from the flight Tuesday from Europe, but was quick to note, “I’m pleased. [The title] definitely feels good.” He received 43.7 point on his final run, enough to edge first-run leader Tucker Perkins, who upped his score on the final run, but only to 42.9 — good enough for silver. Bronze medalist was Taylor Seaton with 41.2.
    Skiing since he was 4 but a freeride specialist for five seasons, Wise said, “The pipe was good. It was definitely slow in the afternoon. It started out quicker this morning and then it slowed down this afternoon once the sun hit the pipe and began melting it.”
    Echoing Hudak, he said, “I was kind of doing the best I can do. I’m hoping to make it to the Olympics … or at least the World Championships. It’s one step at a time.”
    The Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships continue Friday with moguls before shifting Saturday to aerials. The Rip It Trick of the Day will also be awarded Friday with Olympian and World Cup champion Jeremy Bloom handing over a $2,500 paycheck to the athlete who goes the biggest. Dual moguls are set for Sunday as The Nature Valley Freestyle Challenge concludes the championships.


2007 SPRINT U.S. FREESTYLE CHAMPIONSHIPS
Bear Mountain — Killington Resort
Killington, Vt. — March 22, 2007
Men’s halfpipe

(8 made finals — better of two runs)
1. David Wise, Reno, Nev., 43.7 points
2. Tucker Perkins, North Hampton, N.H., 42.9
3. Taylor Seaton, Avon, Colo., 41.2
4. James Leonard, Vail, Colo., 39.5
5. Evan Schwartz, Weston, Conn., 38.4
6. Jack Sullan, Snowmass, Colo., 35.7
7. Tony Seibert, Edwards, Colo., 35.0
8. Ross Falcone, Ketchum, Idaho, 30.9

Women’s halfpipe
(8 made finals — better of two runs)
1. Jen Hudak, Park City, Utah, 34.6
2. Sophia Schwartz, Ketchum, Idaho, 29.6
3. Kim Sharp, Park City, Utah, 26.5
4. Siena Palmacci, Park City, Utah, 25.8
5. Devin Logan, Rockville Center, N.Y., 24.9
6. Hannah Doan, Lake Placid, N.Y., 22.9
7. Tiffany Davenport, Kingston, Mass., 22.1
8. Jessie Sharp, Park City, Utah, 21.3

For complete results:
http://www.killingtonskiclub.com/2007_Nationals%20Thurs%20pipe.pdf

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