The first FIS Big Air of the season is always an interesting marker for the rest of the calendar. It sets the standard, both for the riders and for the judges. We get to see what the judges are scoring particularly highly this year, be it extra technicality on grabs, amplitude etc. Though nominally criteria remain constant, there is undoubtedly a flux in direction from both skiers and those in the booth.
Only six ladies made the final cut from a pretty sizeable field on Friday, with at least a couple of bigger names missing out in qualifying. Elena Gaskill made finals but DNS, so we hope she is doing ok. Mathilde Gremaud set the early bar high with a perfectly carved dub 12. Compatriot Giulia Tanno put down a slightly backseat dub 10 to go second after the first run but sat a huge 14 points behind.
The second run saw Megan Oldham post up a solid 78 for a bio 9 before Mathilde put down one of her own consolidating her lead with an 82.5. Johanne Killi nearly stomped a super clean switch right dub 10 but couldn't hold it through the transition. Giulia Tanno only just cleared the knuckle but put down a nice switch left 9 for 79.25, restoring the Swiss one-two. Dara Howell also narrowly cleared the knuckle but put down a decent switch seven to follow up a slightly sketchy first run and go third.
Megan Oldham crashed on a switch 10 on her final hit, meaning the Swiss top 2, with Dara Howell third all but guaranteed. Dara stomped an awesome switch 'wobble' 10 mute for a huge score of 88 but it wasn't enough to unseat Giulia in second thanks to low scores on her first two runs. Giulia cleaned up her dub 10 but it wasn't enough to put her close to Mathilde Gremaud, who was unstoppable today, winning by some margin.
Max Moffat had a freak switch edge-catch crash on the inrun, scoring a 1.0, the first of those that I've seen. It definitely could have been worse if it were further down though... it happens to the best of us! Andri Ragettli put down a switch dub misty 16 'safety' according to the FIS graphics, but it looked suspiciously tindy to me. He still scored an 86.25 for an early lead though. Teale Harle threw a beauty of a carving dub 16 japan for the first score in the 90s before AHall did what AHall does and took a 92.25 for a dub 16 seatbelt japan + tail. Henrik slid into third for run one with a dub bio 14 tweaked safety.
Max Moffat bounced back with a super nice carved dub 14 tweaked safety, Colby Stevenson went dub 16 cuban to japan. Jesper backed up a first-run switch blender dub 14 mute with a forward dub 16 blunt. Teale Harle pulled his ski off mid switch dub 16 mute, a good ol' Atomic/Salomon Bindings classic. A Hall continued where he left off last season with the switch dub 14 version of his first trick to retake the lead. Birk Ruud did his first run dub bio 14 the other way for a whopping 93.25, the highest score of the day so far. Lukas Mullauer made up for a first run crash with a flawless capped dub 16 blunt, matching Jespers before Henrik stomped a switch dub bio 14 lead safety and scored maybe a touch low with an 86.25 for provisional 3rd.
Lukas Mullauer tweaked a real nice mute on his switch dub 14 but didn't score that great due to a super nice carved (but underrotated in the eyes of the judges) landing. Colby put down a clean switch dub 14 stale and you could argue was underscored for his efforts, with the mid-80s score only bumping him up to a provisional 4th. Teale put down his switch dub 16 but landed a touch backseat for a similar score, taking over that unwanted 4th spot. Andri Ragettli stomped a triple 16 'double grab'. I'm gonna say double safety. But the score was enough to bump Henrik, who crashed, out of third. Birk Ruud also crashed, leaving Alex Hall with a victory lap... the domination continues. Nonetheless, he went for an insane-looking switch dub 14 'double tail' but wrapped around style. He didn't get it perfect but it's a warning of bigger scores to come!
Potato Cam Highlights:
Alex Hall Run 1 + 2 + 3
Birk Ruud Run 1 + 2
Andri Ragettli Run 1 + 3
Henrik Run 1 + 2
Mathilde Gremaud Run 1+2
Giulia Tanno Run 3
Dara Howell Run 3