Steamboat’s Schuiling earns career-best finish at Calgary World Cup
Sammy Schuiling has known for a while that he’s capable of placing in the top 10 in freeski halfpipe World Cup competitions. On Saturday, he proved that to everyone else.
Schuiling, who grew up in Steamboat Springs, finished sixth at one of the World Cups in Calgary last weekend, meeting his high expectations for himself for the first time. The top-10 finish was a career best for the 21-year-old, who has been on the U.S. Freeski Rookie Halfpipe Team for six years.
Schuiling said the long-awaited breakthrough was a result of timing.
In past years, injuries prevented Schuiling from — quite literally — reaching the heights he wanted in his runs. Last year, the season was cut short due to the pandemic, so athletes didn’t have many opportunities to try new things and stretch their skill levels.
This year, the opposite is true. With the Olympics drawing near, the competition season is top heavy. Schuiling and the U.S. Ski Team has already participated in four events, including three World Cups and the Dew Tour at Copper Mountain.
“The combination of being healthy and having a couple events leading up to it to get everything dialed in is what led to it. What it really was was being healthy and me being able to train and put my best foot forward on that day,” Schuiling said.
Halfpipe conditions were odd in Calgary, Schuiling said, with the brand-new pipe not being as steep as the Copper halfpipe, which athletes were more used to after two competitions there. That led athletes to alter their runs, since they weren’t able to perform the highest amplitude and most difficult tricks.
“The higher amplitude that you go, the more you typically have to push off the wall to get back into the transition correctly,” Schuiling explained. “With it being slightly undervert at the lip of the takeoff, it meant most of the athletes were doing lower level runs.”
The conditions favored Schuiling’s abilities. He had to slightly adjust his run, moving some tricks towards the bottom of the pipe, where he would have more speed. He opened his finals run with a leftside double cork 1260, then moved into back-to-back 900s. Then he concluded his run with a rightside cork 1080 into a switch cork 7, which he normally showcases in the middle of his run.
360º or ‘3’: one rotation
720º or ‘7’: two rotations
900º or ‘9’: two and a half rotations
1080º or ’10’: three rotations
1260º or ’12’: three and a half rotations
1880º or ’18’: five rotations
Words to know
Switch: taking off or landing backwards
Cork: an off-axis rotation
Grab: when a skier grabs a specific part of the ski. Some grabs are considered more difficult or stylistic than others
Most events this year have had adverse conditions, with snow and wind slowing down the pipe surface and, therefore, the athletes.
When planning his run, Schuiling weighs the conditions but also how that will change judging. Amplitude and style, among other things, are harder to achieve on pipes like the one in Calgary, and he considers that when deciding which sequence of tricks to attempt.
Alex Ferreira, a 27-year-old Aspen skier, was limited to 1080s in Calgary, a far cry from his 1600-1440 combo that won him Dew Tour a couple weeks ago.
Schuiling is still very much on the outside looking in when it comes to earning a spot in the 2022 Olympics, but he’s OK with that. Traveling to Beijing isn’t his top goal right now. However, a podium in Mammoth, California, this weekend could at least put him in the conversation.
Mammoth hosts a series of U.S. Olympic Qualifying events this weekend, including freeski and snowboard halfpipe events, as well as skiing and snowboarding slopestyle
“One of my biggest goals was to just have those results and ski the run I wanted to ski,” Schuiling said. “That remains my goal going into Mammoth. I’m trying not to get ahead of myself, and I really want to focus on making it through to finals and landing the runs I want to land.”
Elsewhere, Nordic skiers conclude National Championships at Soldier Hollow in Utah on Friday. Moguls skiers will compete in a pair of World Cups at Mont-Tremblant in Canada. Snowboardcross competitors are in Russia for a pair of World Cups this weekend, while parallel giant slalom snowboarders are in Scuol, Switzerland.
Shelby Reardon is the assistant editor at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach her, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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