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TSUBOTA AND CHRISTENSEN DOMINATE MAMMOTH SLOPESTYLE

The weather finally gave us a break and the final competition of the Mammoth Mountain Grand Prix/World Cup weekend went down without a hitch on Sunday, with Yuki Tsubota (CAN) and Joss Christensen (USA) claiming slopestyle victory on the big Mammoth Unbound course.

After so many days of variable weather, the gods were finally on competition's side, and a big program for the day saw qualification and finals go down in quick succession.

In the ladies' competition there weren't too many surprises heading into finals, with Kreichberg 2015 world champion Lisa Zimmermann (GER) leading a field of eight that also included Sochi 2014 Olympic silver medallist Kim Lamarre (CAN) and Tiril Sjaastad Christiansen (NOR), who came into Mammoth as the World Cup leader after her win at the season-opening competition in Cardrona (NZL).

However, none of those heavy hitters would find themselves on the podium, as Zimmermann couldn't land a complete run and Sjaastad Christiansen and Lemarre couldn't put their best on display on the challenging Mammoth course.

Lemarre's teammate Tsubota had no problems, stomping her first run with a clean line through the rails before nailing a corked 720 into a right-side 540 through the ladies' jump line to earn herself a score of 84.40 that would end up being the only score to hit the 80's in ladies' competition.

"I'm ecstatic right now," said Tsubota on scoring her first World Cup win, "It was a frustrating week for all of us. It was windy, it was snowy, it was all kinds of weather. Today was the first time I really hit the jumps, but it wasn't too bad. We're all so good, we know how to do the tricks, it's just getting used to the jumps. But we're all at the level where we can do that."

Second on the day went to 17-year-old Giulia Tanno (SUI), the Swiss national slopestyle champion. Tanno's switch left-side 900 on the final jump was one of the standout tricks of the day, and her first-run final score of 74.40 would hold up to earn her her first World Cup podium in just her fifth event.

Third-place went to second-overall competitor Emma Dahlstrom (SWE), who stepped up to nail her second run after falling in her first. Her switch lipslide with a tailgrab out on the canon rail oozed style, and her final score of 76.20 would be enough to knock Johanne Killi (NOR) off the podium and into fourth.

For the men, Sochi gold medallist Joss Christensen put on a clinic on Sunday, nailing both his runs with big tricks and smooth style. His first run, which included three double-corks that were highlighted by his first-jump left-side 1260, earned him a mark 89.00 that would be only just enough to give him the edge over his good friend and second-place finisher Mcrae Williams (USA).

"I'm really excited how things ended up," said Christensen from the finish area. "In finals I wanted to do some crazier stuff, maybe some bigger tricks, but I just wanted to put one run down and I'm glad I tried to take a safe run. I'm just glad it worked out. I'm laughing right now, I can't believe it. I qualified pretty low so I watched 12 people after me take runs. Everyone put down such amazing runs sometimes you don't know where the judges are going to judge you, so I'm excited where I ended up."

Williams second-place run was an exercise in style and showmanship, with a nose-butter 450 on to switch off on the downrail, and final hit switch left-side triple-corked 1440 that was unarguably the nicest of the handful of triples that got thrown on the day. His first run earned him a score of 88.40 - just .6 of a point back from Christensen - and a runner-up standing that would outlast all challenges.

Third on the day went to top qualifier Oystein Braaten (NOR), who was able to take advantage of his position as the final skier of the competition to nail a clean run that included a corked 630 out of the stairset up-rail and a switch left-side double-corked 1260 on the middle jump.

With his result on Sunday combined with a third-place at the season-opener in Cardrona, Christensen moved up to 160 points and stole the yellow World Cup leader's bib from James Woods (GBR).

Woods finished eighth on the day on the strength of a highlight second run that saw him ski cleanly out of the final jump on one leg after losing his ski in the landing. Braaten also surpassed Woodsy on the day, and moved into second overall with 140 points.

For the ladies, fifth-place Sjaastad Christensen was able to hold on to top spot overall with 145, while Tsubota moved to 129 points and second overall.


ONOZUKA AND KENWORTHY WINS IN ABBREVIATED MAMMOTH HALFPIPE WORLD CUP

Mammoth Mountain, USA - What all started out as a solid, if early, morning of competition at the Mammoth Mountain Visa Grand Prix/World Cup quickly deteriorated into a weather-affected stop-and-go marathon, as a howling winds and heavy snow wreaked havoc on the program for Friday's halfpipe finals.

From the start, some wind issues delayed he start of finals by 15 minutes, however, once things got underway with the ladies' first run of finals and into the start of the men it looked like we were in for good contest in the perfect Mammoth pipe.

However, as the old saying goes, mountain weather can change at any time, and in what seemed like a blink the winds came up, the snow came down, and after the sixth man down the pipe we were into a course hold that would last over an hour.

Eventually, the weather calmed down and a revamped program called for a re-do of the men's first runs, followed by the ladies' and then the men's second runs.

However, Mother Nature - or, Old Man Winter, maybe - had other plans, and once again the storm kicked up a notch just as the men were dropping in for their second shot at a first run. When it became apparent that the storm was here to stay, things were called off for the day, with the plan to weigh options at a meeting that evening.

With the storm forecasted to prevail unto Saturday, it was decided that the ladies' first fun of finals would stand as their final tally. This meant that Ayana Onozuka - Thursday's top qualifier and the clear standout in Friday's single finals run - would walk away the winner, with her score of 85.00 well-clear of second-place Devin Logan's (USA) 80.40 and third-place finisher Janina Kuzma's 74.00.

With her performance, Logan was just able to hold on to the lead in the World Cup standings that she established with a victory at the season-opening event in August at New Zealand's Cardrona resort, with 180 points. Onozuka pulled into second on the standings, just 20 points behind Logan, while Kuzma sits in third just 20 points again behind Onozuka.

As for the men's competition, while the first attempt at Friday's finals saw six of the nine men in the finals complete runs down the pipe, it wasn't enough to give a true finals result for the event. With the forecast for Saturday calling for continued snow and wind, officials and organizers put the contest on hold, hoping for a window in which to finish the final.

However, a second attempt to run the men's final later on Friday also got called off, and the decision was made to call things off for the day and try again on Saturday.

Saturday came with more of the same - snow, wind, and delays. After a Herculean effort by crews to clear a massive amount of snow out of the bottom of the pipe, it was announced that one final decision would be made on Saturday afternoon.

While the sun did finally break out just before that final decision, the winds kicked back up to probably their strongest force all week. And, with that, there would be no final, and the qualification results that saw US skiers Gus Kenworthy, David Wise, and Aaron Blunck top the proceedings in that order would stick as the final judgement.

"It was kind of a frustrating past few days, just hoping for good weather there and not really getting it," Kenworthy said after receiving his winner's trophy, "But both the event organizers and the people at Mammoth did an amazing job at least trying to get the comp off. They did the best they could, but in the end it was just too crazy with the weather and too unpredictable with the wind. It worked out good for me and I'm happy to be on top, but it doesn't really feel like a totally legitimate win.

"But I think everyone kind of knew, going into qualifying, that this could happen, and I think everyone did kind of ski the qualifier like it was a final and skied it at a really high level, so I feel good about that."

France's Kevin Rolland, who finished qualifications (and thus, finals) in seventh-place, would retain the yellow World Cup leader's bib based on his Friday performance and a win in August at Cardrona.

All in all, organizers crews, and officials should be commended for the efforts and determination. Ultimately, the weather rules when it comes to winter sports such as halfpipe skiing, and at some point all options become exhausted. And so, it's on to the next one, with ski slopestyle scheduled to take to Mammoth's expertly-constructed Unbound terrain park on Sunday morning, with a full slate of qualifications and finals to hopefully close out the Mammoth Mountain Grand Prix/World Cup on a high note.


CANADIANS DOMINATE AT THE MOGULS WORLD CUP IN VAL SAINT-COME

Val Saint-Come (CAN) - The Canadian team dominated the Val Saint-Come moguls World Cup on the home soil taking five out of six podium spots. Mikael Kingsbury (CAN) scored the 30th victory of his World Cup career while the Dufour-Lapointe sisters wrote history with the first ever family podium sweep.

After almost six weeks of break, the World Cup tour was in full swing again in Val Saint-Come ski resort, with the competition being just the second stop on the circuit after cancellation of Lake Placid last weekend. With a perfect course and another bluebird day in Quebec, the setting was perfect for the Canadian team to rewrite moguls history yet again.
In the ladies' competition Justine, Chloe and Maxime Dufour-Lapointe (CAN) went 1-2-3, to make it the first ever sisters' podium sweep in history of the FIS Freestyle World Cup tour.
"I think the podium sweep probably crossed our mind at least a couple times throughout the day," said Justine Dufour-Lapointe. "But we stayed focused and followed the plan we had built with our team. It takes really great runs to do this and it's definitely not an easy thing to achieve. The support the crowd gave us today was so impressive, too. They were loud and energetic all day. We felt like the entire country was behind us cheering us on and watching history."

After Maxime received the score for her run in the Final 2, Nessa Dziemian (USA) was the only one who could spoil the Dufour-Lapointe party. The young American, who was going for her first World Cup podium in just her sixth competition, couldn't handle the first moguls section and crashed out early. Following Dziemian, Chloe and then Justine dropped in and nailed their final runs with trademark style and precision, sending the home crowd into a frenzy over the historic achievement of their favorite moguls sisters.

Yulia Galysheva (KAZ) finished the day in the fourth spot and was followed up by Perrine Laffont (FRA) and Dziemian rounding up the top 6.

With the second-place finish on the day Chloe jumped into the top spot in the moguls World Cup standings and has a slim 16-point advantage over her sister Justine. Mikeala Matthews (USA) who won the season's opener in Ruka, didn't make it to the finals today and dropped to third on the World Cup leader board.

On the men's side it was Mikeal Kingsbury nailing his second win of the season and the 30th World Cup win of his career. Kingsbury was once again unstoppable and stormed through qualies and both finals runs in top place the from start to end, leaving other competitors no doubts who was the best on the day.

"The crowd played a big part in motivating me and the team today," said Kingsbury. "That's why we love competing in Quebec and in Canada in general. Laurent helped push me too. I knew he was going to be on the podium and I really wanted to share that with him. Laurent may be on the developmental team, but today he showed he can compete with anyone. He's going to have a great career. I'm really happy with how the day went. I was able to have the type of runs that I wanted today and it all came together perfectly."

Second place went to Matt Graham (AUS) while the youngster Laurent Dumais (CAN), who is still on the development program with the Canadian team, surprised everyone with his career's best performance and a finish on the third step of the podium.

"This is very special to me because it's my favourite location to ski," said Dumais. "I've done well here in the past. This is an incredibly special moment for me because I have my family and friends here as well. So many people came to see me compete and support the team. The crowd was amazing and provided me with so much energy." 

Phil Marquis (CAN) finished the competition in Val St Come in fourth place, while Alexandr Smyshlyaev (RUS) and Daichi Hara (JAP) rounded out the big finals in fifth and sixth, respectively.

With another 100 World Cup points Kingsbury now sits comfortably on the first place in the overall moguls ranking with an 84 point advantage over Ban Cavet (FRA) and 88 points over third-ranked Graham.


THOMPSON THRILLS HOME CROWD IN NAKISKA, CHAPUIS TAKES FOURTH WIN IN PHOTO-FINISH

Nakiska, CAN - It was a thrilling competition from start to finish as the Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup took to the slopes of Nakiska, Canada, on Saturday, with Canadian star Marielle Thompson taking her third-straight win at the Rocky Mountain resort in the ladies' race, and Jean Frederic Chapuis (FRA) claiming his fourth win of the season in spectacular style with a last-ditch reach across the finish line in the men's event.

Chapuis' photo-finish win in the men's big final was the most climactic example on a day when nearly every heat, from eight finals through to the end, saw nail-biting action through the final section of the pristine Nakiska course and daring passes throughout.

There was perhaps no better example of this than in the ladies' first semi-final heat, where, with Thompson out in front, Alizee Baron (FRA) and Andrea Limbacher (AUT) traded places a half-dozen times through the middle section of the course before Limbacher was able to break away and follow Thompson into the big finals.

There, Thompson and Limbacher would be joined by another Austrian in Katrin Ofner and World Cup leader Anna Holmlund (SWE), who was lucky to get into the finals when her teammate Sandra Naeslund and second-overall qualifier Kelsey Serwa (CAN) crashed in front of her in her semi-final heat.

Out of the gates in the big final Thompson took the lead, skiing smoothly through the technical start section, followed closely by Holmlund while the two Austrians battled for position behind them. Out of a bank in the middle of the course those two would touch skis, sending Ofner into the fences and out of contention.

In front, Thompson and managed to keep a slim lead over Holmlund despite the Swede's best efforts to find more speed, and Thompson was able to cross the line ahead for her third win of the season and third-straight victory at the lone Canadian stop on the Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup tour.

"I'm really stoked," Thompson said after her win, "When I came down after the semi-final I was just feeling so good about my skiing, I was having so much fun. And then in the final, anytime I'm in the gate with Anna I know it's going to be a tough one, so I just focused on really nailing those first few features and really working them to the best of my abilities to get in front.

"The whole way down I was just trying to stay in my tuck and nail my line because I was just waiting for her to pass me. She's a good skier. But today was just a blast. Couldn't have been better."

In the men's big final, World Cup leader Chapuis lined up against Armin Niederer (SUI), Daniel Bohnacker (GER), and second-overall on the World Cup, local hero Brady Leman (CAN).

Niederer is the most successful man in the history of the Nakiska race, with three podiums in three attempts heading into this season's edition, while Bohnacker was sitting on two fourth-place finished already in 2015/16 and was clearly hungry to finally step on to the podium.

However, out of the gate it Leman taking a lead that looked like it might be unassailable, as Chapuis slipped back and Niederer and Bohnacker jockied for position behind.

Skiing smoothly, Leman looked like he was putting together the type of perfect race required to beat Chapuis this season. However, in the course's final section, Leman cased a roller, dumping a fraction of his speed. As it turned out in such a tight heat with such elite skiers, that small mistake would end up costing him the race, as both Chapuis and Niederer were able to slip past Leman in an incredible photo-finish that capped off one of the most impressive big finals of the season.

"I made not such a good start, I was second and I tried a few times to pass Brady (Leman)," Chapuis recounted of the final heat, "One time in the negative turn, but I was still stuck in second, and then in the last turn I made some speed to overtake him just at the line, between him and the final gate post. It was really close, but I was happy to win.

"Brady is pretty strong. He's always in the final or the small final. He's really consistent this year and it's hard to beat him, so it's good to get some points on him with this win."

Aside from the big final photo-finish, the highlight of the day might have been Alex Fiva's daring pass over the top in the negative corner, shooting himself from second to first in the heat and putting himself in the running for the "Pass of the Year."

Holmlund and Chapuis continue to lead the respective ladies' and men's Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup standings, with Holmlund sitting at 670 points over second-place Alizee Baron's (FRA) 429, while Chapuis now leads Leman by 100 points, 570-470.


THOMPSON AND LENHERR WIN SECOND RACE IN WATLES

It was another exciting race day in Watles with Marielle Thompson (CAN) back on top of the podium and Jonas Lenherr (SUI) scoring his first-ever World Cup win. The race provided spectacular emotions with plenty of incredible passes and tough fights to the finish

Yesterday, athletes had to deal with the strong side wind, today they faced heavy snowfall, making the conditions challenging again. With fresh snow accumulating on the course, choosing the right line was crucial. Andrea Limbacher, who finished third yesterday, was just one of the "bad line" victims. Leading her quarterfinal heat, she took the wrong side of the last jump, resulting in her early elimination.

Marielle Thompson finished the weekend with a big smile on her face, showing consistency all day. In the Big Final, Thomssom caught David Ophelie (FRA) and then took advantage of clinching Anna Holmlund (SWE) and Heidi Zacher (GER). She got ahead of both of them on the inside turn and kept the lead until the end.

"It's really good to be back on top," said Thompson "We had some issues with the weather here, but at the end the organizers pulled off both races. Watles is a great course and I hope we can come back next year" she finished.

Holmlund finished the day in the second, earning another 80 points in the overall World Cup standings. After seven races, she has more than 200 points more than Alizee Baron (FRA).Third place went to Zacher, her second podium of the season.

On the men's side it was the Swiss duo of Jonas Lenherr and Alex Fiva going one and two, respectively. Lenherr scored his first-ever World Cup win and was nearly speechless after crossing the finish line. He stayed calm in the big final, first capitalizing on Brady Leman's (CAN) mistake and then working his way through the roller section to pass his teammate Fiva.

"It was a great day today and it feels awesome to stand on the podium with Alex" said Lenherr. "I'm looking forward to the next race and hope I will be able to repeat my performance" he added.

Brady Leman rounded out the podium gaining ground on Jean Frederic Chapuis (FRA) in the World Cup standings. He now trails by only 60 points making things very interesting for next weekend's race in Nakiska (CAN).

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