Birk Irving wins World Cup gold at Mammoth Mountain
Winter Park Competition Center alumni takes home coveted Crystal Globe
King of the freestyle halfpipe, Birk Irving has capped off his most successful World Cup season yet. During the U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain on Feb. 3, the 23-year-old touched the sky during the freeski halfpipe finals, scoring the coveted Crystal Globe.
The day began with heavy winds, initially so brutal they delayed the competition. Despite the wind challenging Irving and the other skiers, the Winter Park native laid down three impressive runs. In his final run, his finished with an impressive double flatspin 720. His score of 94 earned him his second World Cup gold of the season, along with his first Globe win. The Globe is awarded to International Ski Federation competitors who are the overall winners in their discipline. This season, Irving also earned silver at X Games in Aspen in January and won gold at the World Cup at Copper Mountain in December.
In the women’s ski halfpipe finals, Svea Irving, Birk’s younger sister, finished in seventh place, with a score of 75.50. Zhang Kexin of China captured the gold with a score of 93.50.
After his runs, Birk Irving spoke with the FIS Freestyle Skiing Channel about how the day was more than a competition, it was also a tribute to a fallen fellow skier, Kyle Smaine. The former world champion halfpipe skier died after being buried in an avalanche on Mount Habuka Norikura in Japan on Jan. 29. Irving told interviewers he had learned of the death of his friend and fellow competitor during the X Games a week before.
“Heartbreaking, but also it’s like, we’re all skiing probably the best we ever have because … we’re all skiing with Kyle in our hearts and skiing for him,” Irving said during his interview. “We know he’s up there and looking down on us, watching over us. We miss you Kyle, we love you, thanks for keeping us all safe today.”
As Irving and the other competitors skied the same halfpipe Smaine had during his 2018 Grand Prix win at Mammoth, their thoughts were with the former athlete. Before the competition, hundreds of friends and family members gathered at the top of the halfpipe for Smaine’s memorial service, then skied or snowboarded down the pipe in his honor.
“The memorial this morning was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. So many people from the ski industry gathering and just loving each other, and the support was awesome,” Irving said during his FIS interview. “Thankfully, we were able to get a contest off. It was a great day.”
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