The Slopestyle World Championships went down in Park City, Utah today, despite what is technically known as a shitload of snow having fallen the previous night and plenty of wind/snow on course. Somehow the shape team managed to get the course into fairly decent shape, but Fabian Boesch didn't sound happy about the conditions in which qualifications went down in his interview with Swiss TV. He dodged questions about whether the event was 'dangerous' but said that he was scared to ski as a result of wind and speed issues (and he is a maniac).
There was also little practice on the jumps prior to the event, because of weather conditions. All that combined to mean that jump runs in qualis were limited, with two 9s and a dub 12 good enough to make finals. The women's event didn't run today at all with headwinds meaning speed wasn't sufficient for them to even attempt to clear the jumps and the start of the men's finals was also delayed, but went ahead after yet another wind delay. It's pretty clear lots of the riders weren't stoked on the call, believing conditions to be unsafe, and with good seemingly reason. There are, of course, TV commitments and the like to consider, so hopefully, someone from FIS will weigh in here on the decision-making process rather than have me speculate, but overall this wasn't a great advert for slopestyle skiing (except that the riders deserve so much respect for being willing to send it). On to how the finals unfolded:
Aleksi Patja started off hot on the rails but straight aired the first two jumps and then did a cork 3 because of speed issues. McRae Williams managed to put down a pretty good run on the jumps with a sw dub 9 to dub 12 at the bottom, but came off the first rail early (scoring a 76 under the new judging system). Jonas Hunziker pulled up on the first jump because of no speed. James Woods, the seasoned vet, was the first to make it to the bottom of the course, clean on all feature but with a switch 9, a cork 7 and 5 on the jumps limiting him to a 56. Nick Goepper stomped b2b dub 10s to post the first score in the 80s and lead after run 1.
Aleksi Patja again struggled with speed, before McRae came up short on a dub 10. Henrik stomped the best rails of the day, just squeaked over the knuckle (by literally inches) with a dub 10, then stomped a right 9 and switch dub 10 critical to take provisional second. Mac Forehand then took that second, managing to dub all three jumps (should have been first), immediately before Woodsy took the lead with three dubs of his own and a dope switch 4 on. Birk Ruud then took the second spot with a solid run in what was a good patch of weather. Then Nick Goepper came up short, announcing the return of the wind. Oscar Wester had a long wait for his run because of said wind and then predictably didn't have enough speed to stomp jump one.
Woodsy (1st Place Run):
Birk Ruud (2nd Place Run):
Aleksi P made it three for three with not enough speed which has to suck after managing to make finals against such a huge field, such a dope skier too. McRae Williams was lucky to be fine coming up short on a final jump dub 12 before another delay. Henrik came up short on jump one and abandoned his run. Woodsy bailed out before jump 1. Colin Willi landed a run but over-rotated on a dub 10 keeping his score in the low 80s. Nick Goepper span like a top on the third rail feature and went big on the jumps (b2b dub 10s and a dub 12) but had some small jump issues (loose grabs and an over-rotation on the second dub 10) and it was only enough for third. On the last run of the day, top qualifier Oscar Wester again had to wait to drop and crashed on the first rail, a bad end to a shitty day for him, leaving Woodsy a very subdued World Champion.
Henrik Run 3 (Example of speed):
Goepper (3rd Place Run):