Cassidy Jarrell has been in plenty of halfpipes, but none have meant quite as much as the one this week at Copper Mountain.
"It is so big," Jarrell said after training Tuesday. "Just standing at the top and looking around, I used to watch all these guys on TV. I'm like, 'Damn, how am I standing next to all these guys?' So it's huge for me."
Jarrell, an 18-year-old senior at Aspen High School, looks to become the next great halfpipe skier from Aspen, following in the footsteps of Torin Yater-Wallace and Alex Ferreira. While Yater-Wallace, a 2014 Olympian, and Ferreira, a winner on the World Cup and Winter X Games frequenter, are savvy veterans, Jarrell is just now entering the world of big-time competition skiing.
So far this winter he's landed two major invites, beginning with this week's Copper Mountain Grand Prix. The competition also is the first of four remaining Olympic qualifiers, which includes the January event at Aspen Snowmass. Jarrell also has been invited to next week's Dew Tour in Breckenridge, the second of the Olympic qualifiers.
Jarrell has known about his Dew Tour invite for some time now, but because of an email mishap, only found out about his Copper Mountain invite over the weekend, leading to a "really big" change of plans this week.
"This is kind of training for Dew Tour in a way, because I wouldn't be able to ski pipe before Dew unless I got into this," Jarrell said. "So now I at least get to get in the halfpipe and at least get some pipe training in before Dew Tour."
Jarrell has been a force in smaller competitions the past couple of seasons, but never has he had the chance to compete at this level and against some of the best skiers in the country, if not the world. Ferreira, the winner of the last two World Cup events, and Yater-Wallace, who won the first Olympic qualifier last winter at Mammoth, are both competing at the Copper Mountain Grand Prix as well.
Jarrell isn't holding out any real hopes of qualifying for the Olympics — the U.S. will only send four male halfpipe skiers — but also realizes the opportunity is equally his for the taking.
"It's on my mind," Jarrell said. "I don't think it's realistic, but it could definitely happen. There is potential. There is a chance for everyone."
Even without the Olympics, this week's Grand Prix could be an avenue for other big events. Barring a disastrous performance at Copper and again next week at Dew Tour, Jarrell is almost assured an invite to compete in front of the hometown fans at the Snowmass Grand Prix, and maybe again at Mammoth in the final Olympic qualifier.
He's also holding out hope that a good performance over the next two weeks — he'll also compete in the Revolution Tour stop next week, again at Copper — could land him an invitation to X Games Aspen, long a dream of his.
Regardless, this winter is shaping up to be a career-defining season for Jarrell.
"It's huge for me. I'm really excited," he said. "I definitely have hopes. We'll see how it all plans out. People have done it, and I'm going to try."
The Copper Mountain Grand Prix officially gets underway Wednesday with the freeski halfpipe qualifying rounds. The finals are scheduled for Friday. The Grand Prix also includes a snowboard halfpipe and big air competition.