September 4th 2017, Cardrona NZ.
The second day of snowboarding at the Audi Quattro Winter Games sees the finals of the Slopestyle World Cup opener staged. Another perfect sunny day with no wind made for some hot finals action.
The finals had a best of two run format. The women and men staggering the heats. The 16 best men and 10 best women lined up after making it through yesterdays qualifiers. The technical course proved challenging yesterday as the snow warmed up in the afternoon. Riders had to display poise and control on the tight trick line to keep their speed for three steep kickers to finnish.
Women’ slopestyle final
Home town hero Zoi Sadowski Synnott rounded out the podium, edging out Spencer O’Brien (CAN) for third. Zoi landed her signature double wildcat (backflip) off the final jump for a 74.76.
Miyabi Onitsuka of Japan had a bit to do coming into her second run, trailing Jamie Anderson (USA) by 3.4 points. Her riding style is clean and smooth. For her first run she cruised through the top rail section with a nose press, a switch 180′ 50-50 and a smooth 270′ bs board to 450′ out off the Audi car rail. Her jump line featured a cork 7′, a perfect 540 mute grab and a huge 1080 to finish. A great run that put her momentarily in front with 79.96.
Unfortunately Miyabi lost her lead to Jamie on the very next run. Jamies experience, trick selection and superior amptitude giving her a score of 83.36. With Miyabi being the last competitor able to beat Jamies first run the pressure was high and she came unstuck in the jump line of her second run.
This just left Jamies victory lap to be run for the Olympic champion to take out the Winter Games NZ three-peat. This was the third for her as she took out the bi-annual event back in 2013 and 2015. Her victory run was epic. No holding back for Jamie as she threw a cab double underflip off the last kicker. It’s the first time she’s tried that in competition (go Jamie!) and it improved her first score to 85.78.
Men’s slopestyle final
The men’s slopestyle final was a log jam of talent. With the event offering valuable qualifying points for next year’s Olympics, the pressure was high. A good mix of World Cup rookies and seasoned tour pros took on the course and threw down for what was a very entertaining event.
As the course softened mid morning under the spring sun, a lot of the riders were struggling to get their jump tricks stomped. A few tour veterans fell victim to the conditions and crashed out of the final.
Darcy Sharpe (CAN) who qualified first from the heats crashed in his first run. He needed a big performance to get on the podium from his second. He had hurt his ankle but it was not evident in a great second run as he focused through the pain. After spinning in and out of every rail through the top of the course, Darcy landed a 12′ a corked 9′ and a huge floating 1080′ to finish, landing it way down the transition. His score of 85.33 put him into second place.
Local shredder Carlos Garcia Knight continued the Kiwis winning ways by joining Zoi of the women’s NZ team with a third place. He also missed his jump line on his first run and needed his second to be hammer. He got the run he wanted. Stomping back to back 1260’s to come from nowhere with a 84.58 from the judges.
Marcus Kleveland takes the win
But no one could catch Marcus Klevelend’s first run of 85.58 giving the Norwegian his first Slopestyle World Cup circuit win. He put down a technical run featuring double rail bonks and a bs rodeo 5′ off the car rail. Down the bottom he made super clean spins both ways off the jumps. He finished the run with a switch indy 1260.
So on the day, two of snowboarding’s best took away the gold. Some great riders crashed out, including Olympic medal favourite Sebastien Toutant. Also the tour rookies got a taste for competition pressure. Notable exclusions included Anna Gasser and Mark McMorris, but the event maybe a good indication of some favourites for PyeongChang in Feb?