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Jamie Anderson was one of the main riders protesting the cancellation of finals today. PHOTO: Jeff Brockmeyer

Breckenridge 2014 Grand Prix cancelled, a bunch of riders are pissed

Part of the Five Stops To Sochi series presented by Mammoth

FIS technical delegate Jim Sidorchuk had barely finished announcing that the Breckenridge Grand Prix pipe and slopestyle finals were cancelled and qualifying results wouldn’t count, when slopestyle riders Jamie Anderson, Kjersti Buass, and Ty Walker shouted that they would appeal. The FIS decision meant that no one would get points towards his or her Olympic teams. But the ladies said they wanted their qualifying results to stand as their finals scores and count for their Olympic team rankings. And they had the backing of all but one of the qualified women’s slopestyle riders.

The declaration seemed to catch event officials off guard as it took them several minutes to figure out how exactly the appeal process works. It turns out that the women’s slope riders had 48 hours to submit their appeal. The FIS appeals board would then have 72 hours to make a decision. Any of the other halfpipe or slopestyle groups could appeal if they wanted to as well.

Earlier in the morning event officials from the FIS, TTR (WST), and USSA held a meeting to let riders know that the halfpipe event was cancelled today because of high winds and a storm, which dumped eight inches of snow on the pipe. The TTR and FIS co-sanctioned this event and the Copper Grand Prix so that riders would be able to earn both FIS and TTR points.

The riders were all okay with this first decision to cancel the Breckenridge Grand Prix. At the time there were bluebird skies and low winds, but officials felt that while they tried to fix the pipe it wasn’t up to par and there was too much chance that riders could get hurt. The slope finals had already been moved from Friday to Sunday, and with more weather forecasted to move in, slope was cancelled as well.

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There was a lot on the line for Norwegian rider Kjersti Buass, who qualified third. PHOTO: Jeff Brockmeyer

Speaking about the call, head judge Paul Rak said that the jury got together with event organizers and went through all the scenarios they could to arrive at a decision that was fair. Coming to a happy medium was a very difficult thing, he added.

At that first meeting, riders weren’t told what the cancellation would mean, but there were three possible options: cancel the finals but use the qualifying results to score the winners, add an extra finals for the qualified riders at the Mammoth Grand Prix stops next week, or just scrap the whole thing.

When Jamie heard that the cancelation announcement was being made, she rushed over and was one of the few riders there aside from Ty and Kjersti. “Most of the riders weren’t here because no one got notified,” Jamie said. “I found out at 10:30 there was a meeting at 11 and rushed over. Kjersti had no idea. She had a really strong opinion but she didn’t get to voice it until they made the call. If all the girls want the results to count, our event should count.”

Kjersti qualified in third and had a lot at riding on a good result. “I need a top 10 and this event was the deadline for Norwegian team selection,” she said. “I’m in finals so I have a top ten but if they cancel it, it doesn’t count. If this doesn’t count they might not bring me [to the Olympics]. I’ve never done a contest in my whole career where they’ve canceled qualifiers and the result hasn’t counted.”

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Ty Walker also took a stand with the ladies today. PHOTO: Jeff Brockmeyer

Jamie Anderson, who qualified first, also had a lot at stake. A win here would have guaranteed her a spot on the US Olympic slopestyle team. “I could have been celebrating,” Jamie said. Instead she’ll still be focused on making sure she has a spot on the team at Mammoth next week.

For other competitors, cancelling the event was a good thing. Some riders don’t always go with their best runs to qualify and instead do a toned down run that’s good enough to make the cut. If the qualifying runs counted as their final result they could end up with a much lower score than they were capable of getting. That means a rider’s ability could be misrepresented when it comes to making the Olympic team.

Right now, the men’s and women’s halfpipe qualifiers are appealing the FIS decision as are the women’s slopestyle qualifiers.

Update: USSA is seeking a plan for a replacement Olympic qualifiers at Mammoth for the cancelled Breckenridge Grand Prix. Read about it here.

Here’s more of what Jamie, Ty, Sage Kotsenburg, and Todd Richards had to say about it all.

See qualifying results and photos here