Big Air Champions Crowned at Winter Games
The first titles of the FIS Junior Freestyle Ski & Snowboard World Championships 2018 were awarded today at Cardrona Alpine Resort. Japan’s Takeru Otsuka was crowned Junior Men’s Snowboard Big Air champion, Mac Forehand (USA) Junior Men’s Freeski Big Air Champion and Anastasia Tatalina (RUS) Junior Ladies’ Freeski Big Air Champion. The Ladies’ Snowboard Big Air championships have been postponed until later next week due to high winds over the past two days.
In the men’s events, competitors’ combined top two scores from three runs counted for final places, with a requirement also to spin tricks in different directions. Top scorer in the snowboard qualifying heats, Otsuka landed a frontside triple 1440 mute on run one for a score of 91.80 from a possible 100, stepping up to a 96.4 on run two with a cab triple 1440 mute.
“I’m very happy today,” he said.
Luke Winkelmann (USA) also landed with a smile on his face, finishing in second place with a frontside triple 1440 tail grab on his first hit – a trick he only learned this week - and a switch backside triple 1260 mute on the second.
“I’m super hyped,” said Winkelmann. “That was pretty awesome to land for the first run of the contest. The second run I did a switch back 12 – I didn’t land a single one in practice, so crazy that I landed that one (in competition).”
Canadian rider William Buffey also chose his moment to land a new trick, putting down a cab 1260 for the very first time on his second run and putting himself in contention for the podium. A frontside 1080 mute on run three sealed the deal and a bronze medal.
“I’m super excited how everything turned out,” said Buffey “I learned a new trick second run, I’ve never tried it. I’m just super hyped. I just looked at the level of riding and was just like, you know what, if there’s any time to try it, now’s the time.”
In women’s ski, podium places were decided by each athlete’s top scoring run of three. Russian athlete Anastasia Tatalina went big with a switch bio nine front corking rotation that is unique amongst female competitors, landing her in the top spot ahead of Estonia’s Kelly Sildaru.
“I’m so excited,” said Tatalina. “It’s my first time I’ve won in a big competition.”
Sildaru had huge amplitude on her switch nine mute grab and said she was happy to be back on the podium after a year off with injury.
“It’s my first competition for a year, after my injury, so I’m happy.”
Lana Prusakova (RUS) also pushed hard for the championship title, looking to challenge her countrywoman with a left cork nine tail grab, again getting off the vertical axis and showing progression in women’s skiing, but without big amplitude or a long-held grab, it would mean a third place finish.
“I was hoping to win. But I hurt my knee and I didn’t feel so good to jump today, but I am happy to be third.”
Huge amplitude, progressive tricks and stomped deep landings were what won Mac Forehand (USA) the Junior Men’s Freeski Big Air Championship title, with a switch left triple 1620 and left double 1440 tail grab.
“I’m feeling amazing, I’m so happy to win. On the second run I did a trick (switch triple cork 1620) I’ve only landed once before so I was so happy to land that.”
Ryan Stevenson (USA) finished second with a switch double cork 1440, blunt grab on run two and triple cork 1440 safety on run three, the judges rewarding him for super clean execution, long grabs and big amplitude.
“I’m very, very stoked. First run I didn’t do the trick I wanted so I got a little stress out. I was stoked to land my second two runs. I’m so hyped to lace them up.”
Rounding out the podium in third was Spain’s Thibault Magnin with a switch left triple 12 on run one, and a flawless left triple cork 1620 on his final hit.
“I couldn’t be happier about that,” said