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Gus Kenworthy becomes the first GB man to claim World Cup halfpipe gold

The Olympian freeskier switched to Team GB last year

By Steve Brown

Words: Steve Brown

Gus Kenworthy becomes the first GB man to claim the World Cup halfpipe gold.

Last year, the US Olympic freeskier, 28, revealed he’s switching allegiance to the country of his birth ahead of what is likely to be his last Olympic Games. 

Sochi 2014 silver medal winner Kenworthy, who was born in Chelmsford, Essex and holds a British passport, said he’d decided to make the move in “honour” of his British mother Heather – though it’s worth noting that GB Snowsport also has a less strident – and potentially more inviting – qualifiying process compared to its US counterpart.

And now, over the weekend, Kenworthy earned the top spot after scoring 93.20 at the Calgary Snow Rodeo – which marked his first halfpipe competition in two years.

Speaking to Eurosport after the event, Kenworthy said: “I feel great. It’s my first halfpipe World Cup in two years, and it’s my first competing under the British flag, and I’m just so, so happy.

“I landed a run that I’m happy with, the level of riding tonight was amazing, and I’m very happy to share the podium with Brendan (Mackay) and Birk (Irving).

“I didn’t want to come back to competition slow and just kind of half-ass it. I wanted to come back really aggressive and strong, so it feels good.

“I honestly didn’t know if I was coming back or if I was done competing, but I took some time off and really missed it. It’s great to be back.”

Speaking exclusively to Attitude in December, Kenworthy opened up about when he told his mother he was switching teams to represent her.

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He said: “My mum was pretty excited. I kind of had said I would be done competing after the last games and that was kind of my plan as I was struggling with injury and just didn’t perform the way that I wanted to in Korea, so it made it a little harder to walk away.

“So I think she was excited regardless that I was planning on competing again because she is super supportive and loves watching me ski.

“So she is thrilled I am doing it for GB and that she gets to have her sense of national pride watching me compete.”