“I went into full hyper focus”
[ by Than Acuff ]
After a harrowing crash during training last October and a faster than expected recovery, Aaron Blunck returned to the top of the podium winning the ski halfpipe title at the U.S. Grand Prix in Aspen on Sunday, March 21.
It wasn’t his first competition since being cleared by doctors to ski. He marked his official return to the sport back in January to take the silver medal at the X Games.
But his second competition of the season did not pan out as well. Blunck won the past two world championship titles but he finished in fifth place at the world championships this time around the week prior to his Grand Prix win.
“I was feeling good and everything was coming together for me,” says Blunck. “I just couldn’t put down a clean run.”
Blunck would return to that same halfpipe a week later for the U.S. Grand Prix and with his run in place, and feeling relatively healthy, Blunck’s mantra going into the final halfpipe competition of the season was pretty simple.
“I was at a point where I had nothing to lose,” says Blunck. “I was going to lay it all out on the line. I was either going to win or go down trying.”
Mother Nature had other plans though as she blanketed the halfpipe with five inches of new, wet snow causing Blunck to adjust accordingly.
“The weather came into play and I had to tone things back,” says Blunck. “The first two hits were slow, the second two were fast and icy and the final hit was slow.”
Blunck fell on his first of three runs and then kept himself in check on his second run and was sitting in eighth place with one more halfpipe run to go. At which point he returned to his original game plan for the event.
“By the third run I was like, I got nothing to lose,” explains Blunck. “If I played it safe again I might end up in fourth and I wouldn’t be happy.”
When he got to the bottom of the run he looked up to find he was at the top of the standings with a score of 96.50, a score that would hold on for the Grand Prix title.
“I knew I wouldn’t be content unless I went for it all,” says Blunck. “I went into full hyper focus.”
Not only did he take the Grand Prix title, it was also the first of five Olympic qualifiers. The qualifying process continues next winter with venues yet to be announced.
“It puts me in a good position going into the next season,” says Blunck. “Going in with 100 points is huge.”
With the halfpipe ski season over, Blunck will now hit the road and look to get up into the hills whenever possible.
“I really want to start getting up on some high peaks, that’s where I want to take my skiing next,” says Blunck. “I’ll be doing some filming and training but I’ll definitely be back in Crested Butte for closing day.”