Cover Photo: FIS/Bucholz
The World Cups are coming in thick and fast right now, the second in as many weeks just popped off in Seiseralm, Italy. Some riders, the North Americans especially, made the call to skip the event entirely with X Games coming next week. And the large contingent of under-18s has made its way to the Youth Olympics in Lausanne, where Kelly Sildaru is back on snow. The rail setup at the top of the course was looking fire and three jumps also looked very solid. Again, the course was just banks of jumps and rails, but this one made you want to ski it. The result was a good show from both the ladies and the gents who made it out.
The early runs of the women's finals were more about promise than delivery. Sarah Hoefflin and Elena Gaskell both had switch 10 variations in the mix but couldn't keep things clean through the whole run. Mathilde Gremaud was crushing the rails which was dope to see. As a result, there were some super high section scores, but no complete runs until Sandra Ei, a new face to us at this event, threw down. She started things off with a slightly loose switch lip blind two and capped a perfect cork 9 blunt on the jumps. She held the lead for roughly 90 seconds before compatriot Johanne Killi came through with a cork 9 to back to back switch sevens, all flawless for a first-run lead of 81. She described it as her 'chill run' in the finishing corral, so clearly had more if needed.
Elena Gaskell was the first to mix things up in run two, with three nines and a nice switch lip blind two for 79 and provisional second. Mathilde Gremaud's bobble on the very first feature (accidental backslide after a front swap), killed her score on a podium challenging run. Caroline Claire stomped a switch dub 9 on the second jump and oozed style through the rails to take the lead with an 86. Last to drop Johanne Killi was looking good to challenge that score but ran out of speed on the second jump, leaving Caroline standing on the top step.
The men's final started off similarly to the women's, some crazy moments but not too many clean runs. Finn Bilous was the first to put together a seemingly clean run with pretty solid section scores but only scored 69. Javier Lliso charged through the course, and his fast/slightly loose style (reminded me of JPV a little) was definitely a welcome change from how most of the guys ride. Fabian Boesch was the first guy to really stomp a perfect run with a switch 2 on, misty out on the flat bar and his trademark dub 16 blunt for an 89. Oystein Braten crushed it to go provisional second, with a front cork 6 the highlight of his run, before Colby Stevenson bumped him from his spot an absolute stormer of a run. The 270 backslide safety 270 on the rainbow brought an element of creativity to proceedings and the dub 14 stale at the bottom was beautiful. How he didn't score higher on overall impression, I don't know. But judges be judging.
On run 2, Lukas Mullauer was looking solid before ripping his heelpiece right out of his ski landing switch. Not what you want on finals day. Etienne Geoffroy had a real nice switch triple 12 in his run but having crashed super hard on the wallride in run one, came off a little early preventing a podium score. Antoinne Adelisse was not pretty to watch through the rails but absolutely crushed the jumps with a triple 16 to switch pre-nose dub 10 on the bottom two. He only scored mid-70s because of weak/bobbled rails but it was still an impressive combo. Javier Lliso stomped his run for a second time, cleaning it up a touch to go provisionally third. Birk Ruud then went full-on psycho mode with a wallride to backside blind swap transfer on the wall to down rail, and a dub bio 14 and 16 to finish, for a 92.91 and provisional first place. Fabian Boesch cleaned up his run a little in all aspects but not enough to move above Birk. Colby Stevenson was last to drop, but couldn't find the speed for a 16 on the last jump that he wanted having slightly missed his pop on the first, leaving himself third and Birk taking home the W.
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