“Everyone was on point”
by Than Acuff
Aaron Blunck returned to the top of the podium last weekend as he took gold at the FIS World Championships in Park City, Utah on Saturday, February 9. It was Blunck’s second halfpipe ski world championship title in a row, as he won gold at the world championships in Spain last March.
Blunck had a great start to his season this year, winning the Toyota US Grand Prix in Copper back in December and following that up with a second-place finish at a Dew Tour stop in Breckenridge the following week.
After taking a break from competitions to get some more skiing in, he returned to the spotlight at the X Games in Aspen January 24, where the energy and personal expectations got the better of Blunck and he ended up in seventh place.
“At X Games I was just too hyped up and expecting too much,” says Blunck. “Normally I’m not that type of kid and I took myself out of it.”
Following the X Games, Blunck got back to skiing for skiing’s sake and returned to Crested Butte.
“I just wanted to get home, snowmobile, ski some pow and get into the backcountry,” says Blunck.
While the time was well spent for the fun factor, Blunck ended up getting sick right before the world championships.
“On the way to Park City I was so sick I didn’t even care to compete,” says Blunck.
Nevertheless, there he was standing at the top of the halfpipe on Thursday, February 7, ready to drop in for the qualifier round. The first run nearly ended his shot at a repeat title as he crashed in a heap and ended up in the pipe, thinking it was over.
“I ended up decking really hard and at first I thought I broke my tib/fib,” says Blunck.
Time passed, his shins swelled up but weren’t broken and he returned to the top of the pipe and finished the day in third place.
“I was stoked to end up third after such a nasty fall,” admits Blunck.
It also meant that Blunck would be dropping into the finals in the third spot, a place he likes to run.
“I like being in the middle of the pack,” says Blunck.
The list of skiers at the world championships read almost just like the list at the X Games, but there was one subtle difference. The halfpipe at Park City is known for being one of the best in the world, allowing the athletes to throw down some of their best runs of the year.
“It was ultimately the same group of people but the level of competition was insane,” says Blunck. “Everyone was landing their runs, everyone was on point. It was all-time.”
Blunck took the moment in hand and ran with it, landing a solid run in his first of three finals runs to end up sitting in second place after the first two rounds.
“I was so stoked about that,” says Blunck. “I figured the sky’s the limit and going into the third run it was game on and I was going to give it my all and see what happens.”
Blunck ended up taking the title on his third and final run, landing a run he’d been working on since November to near perfection.
“My goal this season was to get that run dialed,” says Blunck. “I landed the best run of my life.”
Blunck celebrated his repeat world championship title by heading straight to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to compete in the Kings and Queens of Corbet’s Couloir competition. Unfortunately, a couple of crashes denied him the title but he came out of it unscathed.
“I stomped the cork three into it but backslapped on the second air further down,” explains Blunck. “On my second run I landed the first two airs but slammed into this massive bomb hole and got bucked.”
Blunck plans on returning to Crested Butte for more freeskiing, mixed with some filming, and then will close out the competition season at an event at Mammoth Mountain in California.