Cover photo: Bucholz/FIS
It was sick to see a FIS Big Air go down on a real mountain. That's almost a ridiculous statement to have to make but mostly it's scaffolding and ice these days. Conditions looked prime at Copper, even though it was cold as fuck, and both lineups of finalists threw down. It was an insane show of hucking as always but we've got a couple of things that (still) need to be said.
1) Poles should be mandatory for comps. Rules are generally best avoided, but in this case, it's actually defining outcomes on occasion.
2) Cindy, tindy, etc are not real grabs. They are just an inability to grab the ski accurately. To me, they should be scored more like a tickled grab than docked 1 or 2 points. Grabs supposedly show control and missing the point of the ski you're aiming for is the opposite, basically the same as whiffing or scraping a hand.
3) Matej possibly got underscored in qualifiers (among others) and both Mac and AHall took huge deductions today, possibly too big. The severity of slight errors and the resulting scores don't always seem to match up. Judging is a difficult job, full of shitty angles and impossible calls and we'll be talking to some of the judges soon to try and figure it out.
*I spoke with the judges on the phone briefly after the event. The consensus in the booth was that both AHall and Mac's tricks were missed grabs and that Alex Hall underrotated on his first pretz dub. We don't have a replay for you to judge for yourself, unfortunately, but the grabs weren't the best, thought I'd need a replay to say they weren't there. Keep an eye on social media to form your own opinion.
For Matej in qualis, there was a judging split from 79 to 95, for the first time ever as far as anyone knew. The argument was between the slippery slope of allowing hands down on landings and ultra progression. You can form your own take on all of this and let us know in the comments.*
The first few runs saw close-but-not-quite dub 10s from Grace Henderson, Sandra Ei and Olivia Asselin, the former going too deep and the latter two coming up short. Megan Oldham was the first to stomp, a huge, perfect left dub 12 mute for a solid score of 89. Sarah Hoefflin backed her up with a dope switch right dub 10 mute for 84.5. Mathilde Gremaud went left dub 12 for 88 before Kirsty Muir put down a dub 14 safety but landed a touch backseat. Only 76 but it's the first time we've seen that from her. Tess Ledeux took a heavy slam going to gucci on what we think was meant to be a dub 16 but damn she is sendy. Bounced right back up from a beastly hit too.
Grace Henderson stomped her left dub 10 safety the second time of asking. She squeaked it around but it wasn't as close as Sandra Ei, whose tips I could swear grazed the knuckle. Olivia Asselin stomped a beauty of a dub 10 though, oozing steeze, and scored a whole 20 points better than the ladies who came up short. Nice work judges on that one. Megan Oldham stomped the fuck out of a right dub 12 this time around, going big again and mirroring her first trick. She took home an 87 for her efforts and, of course, provisional first. Sarah also mirrored her first trick, going switch left dub 10, for 79.75 and she did come up a bit short. Kirsty stomped the dub 14 this time around, super clean, and was justly rewarded with a 94. Tess put down a clean dub 16... about as tindy as it gets but the rest was perfect and she took home a 95 despite the grab.
Sandra Ei opened the final run with a left dub 12, but it wasn't exactly clean. Grace Henderson put down a switch left 9 tail but the technicality was just too low to make an impact. Olivia Asselin went switch left dub 10 mute but landed just a smidge sketch, enough for 85.5 though. Kirsty Muir went switch misty 9 tail but unfortunately missed the grab. Tess Ledeux couldn't back up her huge 2nd run score either, backslapping on a right dub 10. Mathilde Gremaud put down her switch dub 10 safety clean enough, coming up a little short too but it was enough to push her into provisional second with an 84. Sarah Hoefflin went bigger on her left switch dub 10, but scraped a hand and it wasn't enough to improve. That left Megan Oldham with a victory lap and a deserved win. Massive 3 was steeze too.
Alex Hall was first to put down a clean one with a switch dub 18 lead japan for 85.75. Maybe he got docked because he came up a bit short? After a couple slams, Troy Podmilsak was next to stomp with a clean right trip 18 mute for 91.75. Jesper put down a switch right (blender) dub 18 for 86.75, still got basically nada for the blender though. Birk went loco as always, switch left triple 1980 mute. Stomped and tweaked too. 96.75. Oliwer Magnusson put down a dub 18 blunt but dropped his grab early and got punished for it. Last to drop, Tim Sivignon put down a forward triple 19 mute and showing just why he was the first place qualifier. Good enough for 95 and second place after run 1.
Lukas Muellauer cleaned it up on his switch dub 18 tail, and the grab was capped and held super long... no poles though. AHall was the first to bring out the pullback with a right dub 10 pullback to 9. He did it super proper though, unlike most of the 'pretzels' you see. He only scored a 64.5 though... maybe the grab wasn't the most defined? Seemed very underscored regardless. Mac Forehand went to the moon on a left dub 19 stalefish and scored a tasty 94.25 for his efforts. TPod put down a switch dub bio 16 but it was kinda opened up and scored pretty low too, deservedly this time. Sebastian Scherve went forward dub bio 18 mute, super clean but again no poles. Jesper stomped a dub 19 of his own (lead tail, tickled) but 76.75... Jesper points. Birk put down a 'safety trick' with a dub bio 18 mute for the lead. He got a 91 for it (two points more than Sebastian) for some reason. Tim Sivignon came up a bit short on a switch dub misty 16 mute but it was still proper and good for 81, leaving him provisional second behind Birk after the second run.
Hunter Henderson put down a clean, capped dub 16 tail to go provisionally third. Lukas Muellauer managed to squeak round a dub 19 to bump him immediately with an 82. But it wasn't perfect. Sebastian Scherve went switch dub 18 tail to tail, pretty sick 93, but no poles kinda change that whole grab dynamic. Mac Forehand stomped the piss out of a switch triple 18 safety, again grab wasn't great (he missed mute and I couldn't say for sure whether he got safety) but like AHall in the previous round, 65 seemed very low. Alex Hall suffered the same fate a second time round, but he did boot grab this second time. Tim Sivignon put down a switch dub misty 18 mute, slightly loose on the landing but scored 89.25. He jumped into second, leaving Birk a familiar victory lap and meaning there wasn't a pole to be seen on the proverbial podium. He dropped a forward dub bio 19 mute anyway, he's a psycho and definitely deserved to win. In his case, I'm confident poles wouldn't have made any difference but it's still a slightly sour taste.
*Apologies for the lack of video highlights, we are unable to provide those anymore due to rights issues*
First Place: Megan Oldham and Birk Ruud
Second Place: Mathilde Gremaud & Tim Sivignon
Third place: Olivia Asselin & Sebastian Scherve