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Tazawako, (JPN) - The second and the final day of moguls World Cup in Tazawako saw Deborah Scanzio (SUI) and Mikael Kingsbury (CAN) claiming big wins in dual moguls competition.
In the ladies event it was the Swiss veteran Deborah Scanzio who scored her career's first ever World Cup win, in her 106th start. It was a special day for Scanzio, as the last time we saw Swiss rider on the podium was back in 2008, when she finished second in Mont Gabriel (CAN).
"It feel amazing to have finally won a World Cup competition. I've been waiting
for this moment many years, almost too many. I though this moment would
never happen and today I had probably a little bit of luck but I worked hard and
started to ski better and faster in every next heat and ended up on top. I'm very
After finishing third yesterday, Audrey Robichaud (CAN) scored second place on the day, proving yet again that Japanese stops are probably her most lucky, as five of her 9 World Cup podiums have come in the land of the rising sun.
Chloe Dufour-Lapointe (CAN) rounded up the women's podium in third, taking the lead in the moguls World Cup standings over her sister Justine by a margin of just 9 points, with only one final competition left in the season.
"I really pushed myself today and am proud of my performance. It was a really nice day out there with great snow conditions. I think that helped us out a lot," said Chloé Dufour-Lapointe. "I also gained the yellow bib jersey as the overall leader of the World Cup. That's a huge accomplishment since I have been fighting a cold all weekend. I had to push through it. I'm proud of myself."
In the men's competition Mikael Kingsbury (CAN) won the 32nd FIS World Cup event of his career, defeating US athlete Thomas Rowley in the final heat by a score of 20-15 to capture the title. Frenchman Benjamin Cavet finished third after defeating Dmitriy Reiherd of Kazakhstan 22-13.
It has been an impressive weekend for the 23-year-old Kingsbury who also finished second yesterday in the single moguls event. The victory is Kingsbury's fourth of the season in eight attempts and his seventh time on the podium overall this season. Dating back to last season, Kingsbury has won 11 of his last 15 World Cups.
"I'm thrilled to be back on top of a World Cup. It wasn't an easy day for me with the draw I had," said Kingsbury. "There were a few challenges with the course and I had to beat some really good competitors along the way. I really wanted to win yesterday and I didn't, so I was extra motivated. My confidence kept going up after each dual. I'm happy with the way I dealt with things and that I've basically locked up the Freestyle overall crystal globe."
Rowley, who was named World Cup Rookie of the Year last season, won some difficult duals on his way to the finals, including one against teammate Dylan Walczyk (USA). Rowley skied a strong middle section throughout the competition, losing only in the final, hard-fought dual. After consistently finishing in the top 10 and top 20 this season, Rowley was happy to find the podium.
"I've been close at a couple of events, but it hasn't really worked out," said
Rowley. "It feels good to finally put a couple down and get on the podium."
In the men's standing Kingsbury once again locked up an moguls World Cup title as well as the FIS Freestyle Skiing overall crystal globe, with one competition still to go. It's been just another dominant season for Kingsbury, and the records and accolades just keep coming for the incredible 23-year-old.
The World Cup continues on to Moscow for World Cup finals on March 5. The Moscow event will take place on scaffolding, which will be a unique venue for the mogul skiers.
Limbacher and Midol on top in PyeongChang test event
PyeongChang, KOR - The final event of the 2015/16 PyeongChang Olympic test event series took to Bokwang Phoenix Park on Sunday, living up to the high precedent set by the early competitions in every way, as Andrea Limbacher (AUT) and Bastien Midol (FRA) claimed victory in Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup action.
Sunday in Korea dawned cloudy with the threat of snow in the forecast, but with an expertly prepared track and an decent weather in the afternoon, the finals got underway with a big crowd on hand.
It was clear that racing in PyeongChang was going to be tense, with six of the first eight men's heats going to a photo finish as the technical final straightaway led to drafting and passing just before the line.
Nowhere was this more apparent than in the ladies' big final. There, a last second reshuffling saw leader Marielle Thompson (CAN) get passed by Limbacher and then fall after contacting the Austrian's skis, sliding across the line into fourth place. Just before Thompson went down, her teammate Kelsey Serwa pulled out from drafting behind World Cup leader Anna Holmlund (SWE) and out-reached Holmlund at the line for second place, leaving Holmlund to settle for third.
Limbacher's win was her second of the season and her fifth podium, and it moved her into a tie with Sandra Naeslund (SWE) for fourth on the ski cross rankings.
"I didn't really have a plan today because training wasn't good for me all week," Limbacher said, "I had some crashes in training but today I finished first and it's really awesome for me. I just wanted to have fun today. I love skiing in heats and I'm glad I was able to ski so well."
Serwa's podium was her second in a comeback season that has seen ups and downs. Moving from fourth to second as she did in the big final, she had the best seat in the house for what transpired at the finish line.
"I knew it was going to be a game of patience," she explained, "I found myself in fourth early on but I just stayed calm and knew there was going to be an opportunity at the bottom. I was inside on Anna on a lot of features and she kept shutting the door on me, but I caught her draft heading into the finish and made those two passes into second."
The men's final was no less dramatic. Midol got out to an early lead, though he was followed closely by his teammate and men's ski cross World Cup leader Jean Frederic Chapuis, along with Paul Eckert (GER) and Kevin Drury (CAN).
Drury, appearing in his first World Cup big final, had often looked like the fastest skier on the course on Sunday, and heading into the negative turn behind Midol he aimed to prove that point, going for a risky low, inside pass. Unfortunately, he ran out of space and got into a deep compression that nearly threw into the fences on the next banked corner.
While he somehow stayed on his feet, Eckert and Chapuis were able to get around him as the pack made their way towards the homestretch.
Just before the line, contact between Eckert and Chapuis sent the Frenchmen into a tailspin, and while Drury sought to reach his way onto his first career podium as Chapuis slid, Chapuis' boot would cross the line before the Canadian's hand.
First-time winner Midol was at a loss for words as he surveyed the finish area following his performance.
"It's my first victory on the World Cup," he said, beaming, as the snow began to fall heavily at Bokwang Phoenix Park, "It's an amazing day, a very good day. The course was so cool. I'm so happy."
After an exceptional 2014/15 season, Eckert had struggled through the 2015/16 campaign, and his second-place finish on Sunday came in his first big final appearance of the year.
"At the beginning of the season I had some problems," said the German, "I was skiing good but not good enough. I knew that I could ski faster and today I did. I liked the course during the training and also during qualification. Every heat today I got better and better and to come in second place, I'm really happy with that. I had a lot of fun. It was a good day."
While Anna Holmlund had established her claim to the 2015/16 ski cross crystal globe at the previous week's event in Idre Fjall, (SWE), Sunday's men's result in PyeongChang has now confirmed the men's race as well, as Jean Frederic Chapuis will, like Holmlund, claim his second-straight World Cup ski cross overall title.
From PyeongChang, the Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup now moves to Arosa, (SUI), for the first-ever ski cross World Cup sprint event and the 2015/16 season finale. And, there, Anna Holmlund will look to become the first ski cross athlete to take the Freestyle overall crystal globe since Ophelie David (FRA) did it in 2009.
Tazawako, JPN - The first of back-to-back moguls World Cup competitions in
Tazawako (JPN) is in the books, with Perrine Laffont (FRA) claiming her first
World Cup podium for the ladies and Bradley Wilson (USA) returning from an
extended injury layoff to take top spot for the men.
Last time we saw World Cup moguls competition was back in early February in Deer Valley (USA), and after that three week break from the action, the moguls World Cup was once again in full swing with the single moguls competition kicking off with the big weekend program in Japan.
On the ladies' side Perrine Laffont scored her first podium of the season and the
first win of her career, while also moving up to the third spot in the overall
moguls World Cup standing. Laffont sits within striking distance of leader
Justine Dufour-Lapointe (CAN) and her second-overall sister Chloe, leaving the
race for the yellow bib wide open with two more competitions to go.
Laffont showed great consistency in her skiing during the day, coming with the second highest score in the qualifications, before stepping it up again in the super final
"I tried to stay focused and show my best skiing," said Laffont, "I did well on the course and jumps and ended up winning. It is my first podium and the first victory of the season for me so it just feel amazing."
Chloe Dufour-Lapointe (CAN) finished the day in the second spot to close the
gap on her sister Justine in the overall standings to only 22 points.
Audrey Robichaud (CAN) rounded out the ladies' podium, making it also a special day for her as she repeated her performance from last year while also making it onto the podium for the first time this season.
In the men's competition it was Brad Wilson who made a spectacular
comeback to the World Cup tour with a big win in his first competition since
"I didn't get any sleep last night," Wilson said after the competition, "I was almost more nervous than my very first World Cup back in 2011. To put down the first run to my feet and make the finals was a weight off my shoulders. Since I qualified 15th, I just laid it all out on the line and I was able to put it together."
Wilson, a 2014 Olympian, suffered a knee injury at the World Cup opener in Ruka, Finland in December 2014. With the help of the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team coaches and medical staff, he spent the last year rehabbing and preparing for his return to the World Cup circuit. Now Wilson is back in the game
"My finals run was some of the best skiing I've ever done," a thrilled Wilson
continued, "It felt really, really good. I was on top of it, I was going fast. When I
got up to the top for my super finals run, it got colder and overcast and made it
a little slick. I knew what I needed to do to keep my speed down if I needed to.
After I hit my top air and nailed my back full, I just let it run. I kind of lost
control for a second, but was able to bring it right back in."
Moguls World Cup leader Mikael Kingsbury (CAN) finished the competition in second place, with Matt Graham (AUS) following up on third.
In the overall moguls ranking Kingsbury continues to sit comfortably in the lead with 505 points - a more than 150 points advantage over Graham.
Skiers will wrap up the weekend in Tazawako on Sunday, Feb. 28 with the men's and women's dual moguls competition. The action kicks off at 11.35 local time (3.35 CET).
Minsk, BLR - The final event of the 2015/16 FIS Freestyle Skiing aerials World Cup season took place in Minsk, Belarus, on Saturday, where Ashley Caldwell and Christopher Lillis finished off another strong season for the US aerials team with victories in the respective ladies' and men's competitions, while Caldwell and Ukrainian jumper Oleksandr Abramenko would finish the day holding the aerials crystal globes.
After a comeback 2014/15 season saw Caldwell finish second overall to her teammate Kiley McKinnon after missing two years of competition due to knee injuries, in 2015/16 she made it clear from the outset that she would not be settling for runner-up again, claiming victory at the season-opening event in Beijing, China, and then registered two more podiums on her way to Saturday's season finale in Minsk.
Coming into the Minsk competition sitting 64 points ahead of nearest competitor Danielle Scott (AUS), all Caldwell had to do was make super finals to secure her first career crystal globe. With that in mind, the22-year-old made things easy on herself on Saturday, jumping well through qualifying and better in final number one to earn the top score there and put herself into the superfinal having guaranteed the 2015/16 World Cup title.
Despite this, she didn't hold back in the superfinal, continuing her tradition of being one of the only ladies on the World Cup tour to consistently perform triple flipping jumps, launching a spotless full, full, full to earn a score of 103.27 and knock Scott's score of 96.93 off the top spot and into second place on the day and on the season.
"I didn't sleep last night," said Caldwell in regards to her feelings heading into Saturday's competition, "But when I made the final six I knew I had (the crystal globe) locked in and that kind of changed my mentality in the superfinal. Then in the superfinal I went out and did a full, full, full without training one the whole time we were here, which is kind of a big deal for me. And it was my highest-scoring full, full, full ever.
"Winning the overall title has been a goal for my entire career. To come out here and do it is incredible, and to do it while winning the last event of the season feels very, very nice."
Third place on Saturday went to Aliaksandra Ramanouskaya (BLR), as the 19-year-old earned her second career podium on a strong day for the host Belarusian squad. Ramanouskaya's teammate Hanna Huskova followed her up, in fourth place.
Caldwell finished the 2015/16 season with 409 points to Scott's 325, with Russia's Alina Gridneva rounding out the season's top three with 247 points.
Lillis' becomes youngest ever men's AE World Cup winner, Abramenko takes globe
In men's event, 17-year-old Christopher Lillis shocked the World Cup field, scoring his first career World Cup victory in just his fourth competition and becoming the youngest man to ever win a World Cup aerials event.
Lillis made it through qualifying in third place, finished final one in fifth, and then put down a near-perfect landing in a mistake-filled superfinal to earn a score of 111.78 and make it two-for-two for the US aerials team at the season's final event.
"I definitely didn't come into today thinking I would pull off the win," said a laughing Lillis after the competition, "I didn't really think that was in my zone, or where I put myself. But coming in here I knew I had been doing well and landing jumps, so I thought to myself that I'd really like to do some really nice jumps, with some high scores, just for myself personally. And then in qualifications I did that and got the highest score I've ever gotten.
"I just kept setting new goals for myself all day. In the superfinal I just wanted to do another nice, straight jump with a good landing, and I did that and I won. Throughout the season I've been pushing myself and it worked out today. These are the best athletes in the world in this sport and the this is the highest stage, and just to compete was an honour."
Second place went to Belarusian team leader Maxim Gustik, giving the host nation two podiums on the day. While Gustik's double full, full, full had a significantly higher degree of difficulty than did Lillis' full, full, full, Lillis' jump was executed much more proficiently, and Gustik would not be rewarded.
Third place went to Ilya Burov (RUS), giving him two straight podiums to close out the 2015/16 season.
In the men's crystal globe race, Abramenko found himself in a similar position to Caldwell come time for the superfinal, having already locked up the globe once his nearest competitor, Petr Medulich (RUS) failed to advance from final 1.
Unlike Caldwell, Abramenko didn't wow the crowd with his final jump, crashing in his landing and being forced to settle for fifth-place on the day.
With that result, Abramenko finished the season with 310 points to earn his first crystal globe in his 11th World Cup season. Meanwhile, Gustik's second-place on the day vaulted him over Medulich and into second-place on the season, with 276 points. Medulich would finish in third overall with 244 points.
Northrop, Irving aerials Rookies of the Year
Earlier in the day it was announced that Morgan Northrop (USA) and Lewis Irving (CAN) would be awarded the 2015/16 aerials Rookie of the Year trophies.
21-year-old Northrop competed in four events in 2015/16, with her standout performance coming on home soil in Deer Valley, USA, where she made her first-ever superfinal berth and finished in sixth place.
20-year-old Irving, meanwhile, had three top-10 results in his four competitions entered, topping out at fourth place in the same Deer Valley competition.
Minsk, BLR - With the recent announcement that this season's scheduled aerials World Cup finals in Sierra Nevada, Spain, had been cancelled with no possibility for a replacement, Minsk (BLR), became the de-facto World Cup finals for the second season in a row, with competition upcoming this Saturday in the Belarusian capital.
Last weekend's aerials extravaganza in Moscow saw some impressive and unforeseen results, especially on the ladies' side, where all three of the top athletes took their place on the podium for the first time in their careers.
With her win Saturday on home soil, Alina Gridneva (RUS) has moved herself into potential crystal globe territory, despite the victory being the first of her career.
Ashley Caldwell (USA) currently holds a 64-point lead over Danielle Scott (AUS) on the World Cup standings heading into the final event of the season, with Zhang Xin (CHN) sitting in third, 77 points back of Caldwell. Zhang, however, did not compete in Moscow last weekend, nor will she be in attendance in Minsk.
With Zhang out of the picture and Gridneva the longest of long-shots at nearly 100 points back, the 2015/16 FIS Freestyle Skiing race for the aerials crystal globe has effectively become a two-horse race between the USA's Caldwell and Australia's Scott.
While last season's crystal globe winner Mac Bohonnon (USA) stepped up to take his first victory of the season on the men's side in Moscow, it is Oleksandr Abramenko (UKR) who continues to lead the men's standings, helped along by his two-podium weekend in Deer Valley, USA, two weeks ago, and four-top five finishes in five events so far this season.
As with the ladies' side, the men's race for the crystal globe has also come down to just four athletes with Abramenko sitting 39 points ahead of Qi Guangpu (CHN), 47 ahead Petr Medulich (RUS), and 69 in front of Maxim Gustik (BLR).
Also similar ladies' side is the fact that one of the top challengers on the men's side (Qi Guangpu) did not compete in Moscow and is not on the start list at Minsk, meaning that it will be up to Medulich or Gustik to do their best to deny the veteran Abramenko his first career crystal globe this weekend.
On both the men's and the ladies' sides the chasing athletes will have their work cut out for them on Saturday, however, as both Caldwell and Abramenko come into Minsk as the reigning champions at the venue, both winning last season to close out the 2014/15 aerials World Cup.
With solid leads in the standings and history on their sides, all that's left now for Caldwell and Abramenko to do is exhibit the type of quality jumping that they have shown all season. While in a sport that requires the focus and precision that does aerials this is often easier said than done, expect strong efforts from both athletes in their bids for the 2015/16 aerials crystal globes.
Thompson, Oehling Norberg win second Idre race
Idre Fjall, SWE - The second of the weekend's back-to-back Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup competitions in Idre Fjall took place under perfect blue skies with ideal conditions on Sunday. Marielle Thompson (CAN) and Swedish favourite Victor Oehling Norberg claimed the wins to close out a highly successful competition.
Sunday's had a fast-running, technical track that rewarded precision and punished mistakes. And, with the stakes high, the crowd was rewarded with what may have been the best ski cross race of the season.
Many times, there were skiers falling 15 or 20 meters back early on, only to nail the high-speed rhythms of the extended final straightaway to rocket through the finish line in the lead. In fact, both eventual winners Thompson and Oehling Norberg found their way to the finals by winning heats that they trailed at some point.
Thompson, who took second-place on Saturday, was joined in the ladies' big final by fellow Saturday finalists Sandra Naeslund (SWE) and Alizee Baron (FRA), who finished third and fourth on Saturday, respectively, as well as Katrin Ofner (AUT), who won Saturday's small final.
The winner on Saturday, Anna Holmlund (SWE), failed to make it through to a big final for the first time this season, and with her out of the way the other four ladies' simply moved up a step on the podium, with Thompson taking the win, Naeslund second, Baron third, and Ofner in fourth.
Naelsund and Baron led early, though Thompson had them both reeled by the time they reached the course's negative corner and left them to battle for second while she settled in to the lead.
"I tried to ski my best all day today and be patient with the course," Thompson said after the race, "There were opportunities to make big moves on the bottom portion of the track which I capitalized on a couple times today. The track was a lot faster today and the weather was perfect. It couldn't have been a better day."
The win was Thompson's fourth on the season, and her fifth podium after she earned second place on Saturday, and though it closed the gap slightly on World Cup leader Holmlund, she remains more than 200 points back of the Swede, with 607 points to Holmlund's 815.
Baron maintains her hold on third overall, despite Naeslund's two-podium weekend, with 539 points to Naeslund's 491.
In the men's final, Oehling Norberg was lined up against Thomas Zangerl (AUT), Jonas Lenherr (SUI), and Louis-Pierre Helie (CAN), who was appearing in his first-ever ski cross World Cup big final.
Helie nearly managed to sneak out front at the start of the big final, a snuck in behind Oehling Norberg to ski in second through the top two corners. However, it appeared he might have been focusing too much on a his first World Cup podium and not enough on who might be looking to get by him, as first Lenherr, then Zangerl had snuck by him by the end of the negative turn.
Oehling Norberg skied unbelievably well throughout the day, nailing the make-or-break "Triple Double" roller section of the course with aplomb time and time again, including one last time in the big final.
There, Oehling Norberg's dominance on the day was most clearly highlighted, as all three of his competitors made small mistake on the tricky featuring, forcing them all into a tight pack and ending the day with another photofinish.
"It's an awesome feeling to get another win in Sweden," said Oehling Norberg following Sunday's race, "To have my friends and family here to cheering me on from the sidelines is great. And it's nice to be back on top of the podium. It's been a weird season for me, but today I skied great and hopefully I can keep it going through the next few races."
The win was just his second on a season that has seen him miss races due to back pain and have some unlucky outcomes despite strong skiing.
Despite losing a ski on the first turn and not making it out of the preliminary rounds, Jean Frederic Chapuis (FRA) continues to lead the men's rankings, though Brady Leman's (CAN) sixth place performance moved the Canadian to within striking distance, with 510 points to Chapuis' 584. Leman's teammate Christopher Delbosco sits in third with 478 points after a strong weekend at a phenomenal competition in Idre Fjall.
From here, the Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup tour moves on to one of the most anticipated stops of the season, with the Test Event for the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games on Korea scheduled for February 26-28, 2016.
Moscow, RUS - The FIS Freestyle Skiing aerials World Cup took to the skies above Moscow on Saturday night, with the Alina Gridneva scoring her first career victory (and first podium) in the ladies competition to lead a two-podium night for the host Russians, while 2014/15 crystal globe winner Mac Bohonnon (USA) finally climbed back atop the podium after struggling through the first four events of the season.
The Moscow stop on the aerials circuit has come to be one of the highlights of the FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup tour, featuring a venue composed of a 43m tall scaffold-constructed ramp, light show, huge soundsystem, and concerts throughout the night, making the stop one part aerials competition, one part rock show, and all parts fun.
Gridneva, whose previous best World Cup finish was a 5th-place earned at the 2015/16 season-opening contest in Beijing this past December, nearly didn't make it through to the finals at all on Saturday night, finishing qualifications in 10th place out of 12 qualifiers.
In final one she again skirted disaster, with her back full, full, landing her in the last spot of the top six moving her through to a super final where she would be pitted against the likes of World Cup leader Ashley Caldwell (USA), 2014/15 crystal globe winner Kiley McKinnon (USA), and rising Samantha Wells (NZL).
However, Saturday's super final saw one of those situations that sometimes arises where cleanness surpasses degree of difficulty, as all three of Gridneva's above-mentioned competitors failed to cleanly put down their more difficult jumps, and were forced to watch as Gridneva's strong back lay, full, Zhanbota Aldabergenova's (KAZ) full, full, and Madisen Olsen's full, full, took spots 1-2-3 on the podium.
Incredibly, it was the first career World Cup podium result for all three of Saturday's ladies, continuing a trend that has seen so much new talent enjoying success on the aerials World Cup circuit over the past two seasons.
In men's competition, Bohonnon lead a strong night for a US team that has seen some excellent 2015/16 results on the ladies' side while the men have had their difficulties, as his teammate Jonathan Lillis followed him up with a second-place performance.
For Lillis, too, the Moscow podium was a career first.
Like eventual ladies' winner Gridneva, Bohonnon came out of qualifications in 10th spot, but stepped his game up in final one, putting down a full, double full, full, that would send him through to the super final in third.
In the super final he took it up another notch on the pristine Moscow jumping set-up, nailing a double full, full, full that was far-and-away the highest scoring jump of the evening, netting him a score of 124.43 that was more than 8 points clear of the 116.37 that Lillis would earn for his full, double full, full.
Capping a strong night for the Russian squad on home soil was Ilya Burov, Saturday's top qualifier who would end the night on the final spot of the podium. Burov jumped exceptionally well all evening in front of his boisterous home crowd, but his super final round double full, full, full, just wasn't up to the standard that Bohonnon had set, and his score of 115.84 reflected that. Still, the 24-year-old was able to earn his first podium of the season on the site of his last podium performance, just under one year ago.
While he only managed a 13th-place result on the night (missing out on finals by one spot), the Ukraine's Oleksandr Abremenko was able to hold on to top spot on the aerials World Cup, slightly extending his lead over Qi Guangpu (CHN), who did not compete in Moscow. Abremenko now has 265 points to Qi's 226.
On the ladies' side, Caldwell's fifth-place performance helped her extend her World Cup lead on Danielle Scott (AUS), who finished 13th on the evening. Caldwell leads the standings with 309 points to Scott's 245.
From here, the aerials tour moves on to Belarus for what will be the aerials World Cup finals next Saturday in Minsk, after the scheduled finale in Sierra Nevada, Spain, was cancelled last week for weather-related issues.
Boston, USA - It was a historic night at Boston Fenway Park on Friday, with Lisa Zimmerman (GER) and Vincent Gagnier (CAN) taking wins in front of a massive crowd gathered to witness the first World Cup big air take place a 140-feet tall (43m) scaffold ramp.
Friday's competition concluded a week-long spectacular event for both snowboarding and skiing fans, with organizers estimating an attendance of nearly 30,000 individuals over the two days of competition.
Morning qualifications on Friday selected the top six ladies as well as the top
ten men from the stacked filed of international athletes, with Emma Dahlstrom
(SWE), Vincent Gagnier and Fabian Boesch (SUI) some of the athletes leading
the way and firing up the atmosphere ahead of the evening's main event.
In the ladies' competition, Zimmerman showcased a spectacular level of riding on her way to claiming the win. She was the only female to drop in switch and was stomping tricks deep in the landing all day. She started the finals with a corked 720 that had in fourth place, just to follow-up in her second run with a huge switch 720 that was so big she nearly ended up stomping it in the parking lot. While she couldn't stick the landing on the first try, she corrected the speed and put it down clean it in her third and final attempt. With 173.20 combined score Zimmermann edged Dahlstrom by only 0.20 points.
"I was struggling a little bit today so I was really happy to land two tricks in the finals. It was quite sketchy to drop in switch, but I survived and it paid off", concluded Zimmermann with a big smile on her face.
Although Dahlstrom didn't go for the most technical tricks, she impressed judges with extremely clean style on her cork 720 and the right-side 540 with tweaked safety grab. While it wasn't enough to beat the German skier, she admitted the experience to compete in front of a such big crowd and in such an amazing venue was far more important than the result.
"I had an awesome day here at Fenway. It was a great feeling to drop in with such a big crowd and it really got me pumped. Of course it was very close to the first place but I'm happy that Lisa took it because she simply deserved it," said Dahlstrom.
Tiril Sjaastad Christiansen (NOR) rounded up the women's podium and won the direct battle for the third spot with Italian Silvia Bertagna, also by the slim margin of 0.20 points. Christiansen kept her lead in the overall World Cup standing with scoring 205 total points through three slopestyle and big air stops thus far.
Men's field saw a close competition with all of ten riders being a potential podium threat.
At the end, it was between Vincent Gagnier and Andri Ragettli for the win and the Polartec Fenway Big Air baseball bat trophy.
Gagnier went all way in with his trademark creativity, stomping a bio 900 vinni to octo grab, and a crowd-favourite switch rodeo to funky pretzel, holding to an opposite tweaked mute grab the whole way through. It looked like this was exactly what judges were looking for as his combination of jumps received the highest score of day - 185.00.
"Conditions tonight were perfect. Good landings and perfect speed. I did my tricks and it worked out for the best," summed up Gagnier.
Ragettli, who represents the young generation of talented Swiss riders, finished Boston's competition right after Gagnier. He scored lower than Canadian athlete only by 2 points and proved once again that he's a master of going both big and technical.
Ragettli's teammate Jonas Hunziker took home third spot on the podium and number one spot in the heart of the fans, skiing on Friday night with a Boston Bruins NHL hockey jersey on under his competition bib.
"It was probably one of my best nights ever," said a clearly pleased Hunziker. "The stadium was just so packed with people and I think I've never skied in front of such a big audience. It's definite something very special in general, and then ending up on the podium is like a dream come true."
On the World Cup leader-board it is still Joss Christiansen out front after three tour stops, despite pulling out of the competition in Boston due to a minor knee injury.
The FIS Freestyle Skiing World Cup tour continues next week with the Olympic test event slopestyle competition in Pyeongchang, site of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. Qualifiers there are scheduled for Thursday, Feb 18th with the finals to follow-up on Saturday, Feb 20th.
Holmlund and Flisar prevail in thrilling Idre Fjall event
IDRE FJALL, SWE - Steady snow and some wild, pass-filled racing made for a thrilling day at the inaugural Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup in Idre Fjall (SWE) on Saturday, as the first of the weekend's back-to-back races saw Swedish heroes Anna Holmlund and Sandra Naeslund take first and third place in the ladies race, while Filip Flisar (SLO) took his first victory of the season in men's competition.
Weather has been challenging all week, with strong winds forcing the cancellation of Friday's qualification rounds and necessitating an adjusted finals format that saw men's competition begin with 64 men and 32 ladies.
While most of the favourites made it through the prelims, there were some notable exceptions, including Canadians Brady Leman and Kelsey Serwa, both of whom were coming off wins at late-January's X Games.
The snow caused problems for all athletes, notably for the lighter, smaller ladies. An early lead meant that an athlete was only clearing snow and creating a draft for those behind, and last-minute passes through the final drag strip happened in nearly every heat.
Still, some of the ladies clearly asserted themselves, with Alize Baron (FRA) and Marielle Thompson (CAN) showing good confidence on their way to joining Holmlund and Naeslund in the big final.
There, Holmlund took the lead out of the gate, with Thompson falling back to fourth and Baron and Naeslund battling for position between the two. However, through the course's second turn and into the tough negative corner Thompson overtook both ladies and putting herself hot on Holmlund's heels.
Through the extended final straightaway Naeslund pulled well ahead of Baron and reeled in Thompson, passing her briefly before Thompson out-pumped Naeslund over the final rollers before out-reaching her across the line to secure second place. Baron settled for fourth place, making for her ninth-straight top-10 on the season.
It was Holmlund's fourth victory in 2015/16, and her eighth podium in nine events on the season. Incredibly, she still has yet to miss a big final this season.
"It's pretty stressful to be in the lead on this course today," Holmlund said. "It was tough conditions, but it was the same for everybody, and I'm really happy I was able to hold it together across the line. It was the second time this year Sandra and I have shared a podium, and I think that shows that we've got one of the best teams on the World Cup, even if we are only five skiers."
In the men's competition, Flisar showed remarkable speed throughout a day when so many skiers found themselves eliminated at the last minute.
Flisar was never passed on Saturday, winning all of his heats on his way to a final that saw him matched up against Chris Delbosco (CAN), Christoph Wahrstoetter (AUT), and Bastien Midol (FRA) as the snow eased off and the sun began to break through.
Out of the gate in the big final Flisar was shoulder-to-shoulder with Delbosco, while Wahrstotter fell back to fourth place behind Midol.
However, Wahrstoetter, who was responsible for several heartbreaks on the day with several incredible passes, was at it again, and blew by both Midol and Delbosco and on to Flisar's tails in the second turn.
Into the final straight, Delbosco carried incredible speed out of the jumps, passing Wahrstoetter and nearly catching Flisar, only to case one of the rollers and slow his momentum. With Midol creeping up on his left and Wahrstotter to his right, Delbosco held on and finished second to Flisar, with Wahrstoetter taking third in one of the closest photo finishes on a day when there were 15 of them.
The win was Flisar's first of the season, and his first podium since he had a third-place and a second-place result to start 2015/16. For Delbsco as well it was a return to the podium after several disappointing results, giving the Canadian squad two runner-up performances on the day. Wahrstoetter, meanwhile, claimed his first podium in nearly two years after missing all of last season due to injury.
"I started off the season really well, but then I had some struggles in the last few races," Flisar said of the path his season has taken, "I was skiing good, but I was maybe a little bit unlucky. But finally I'm back here on the podium. I got the one step on the podium I didn't have yet this year and it feels really good."
On the ladies' side, Holmlund furthered her commanding lead on the ski cross and FIS Freestyle overall World Cup standings, and her 770 points has her 263 points clear of Thompson's 507. Thompson's second place result vaulted her over Baron and into second behind Holmlund.
For the men, Jean Frederic Chapuis (FRA) continues to lead the World Cup rankings despite his 17th place finish on the day, and he now sits 114 points clear of second overall Leman, with 584 points to Leman's 470. Delbosco remains in third with 433 points, just 36 shy of his teammate Leman.
Action in Idre Fjall continues on Sunday with the same program as Saturday's competition, with prelims starting at 10:30 CET, followed by finals at 12:30.
Bowman and Blunck take the halfpipe win on the home soil
PARK CITY, USA - Everything worked just perfectly for the 20th anniversary of U.S Grand Prix hosted in beautiful Park City Mountain Resort in Utah, USA. Some of the world's best freeskiers competed in the FIS Halfpipe World Cup today with the host US Freesking team athletes taking the win in both ladies' and men's competition.
On the ladies' side it was Maddie Bowman (USA) who claimed yet another victory coming off a huge performance at last weekend's X-Games in Aspen. Bowman stepped her game up in her last run to steal the victory and to thrill the home crowd. She threw down three different 900s - including a switch 9 that she just learned last week - to clock the best score with 89.80 points.
"Going into that third run I was thinking to do the best I can," said Bowman. "My coach Ben and I decided to put the right 540 into the last run and it seems like it was just the right decision" she added.
Second spot on the day went to Ayana Onozuka from Japan. Finishing on
podium today earned her another 80 points in the overall World Cup standing
and thus moved her into top spot on the leader-board before the last halfpipe
stop in Tignes (FRA).
"It's been a really tough last three weeks with Mammoth GP, X-Games and now the Park City event. Maddie is so strong and she proved that today with her last run" said Onozuka. "I am super happy to be here and finish on the second place. It's been a great competition here in Park City," she finished.
French veteran Marie Martinod rounded out the podium, making it a big comeback to the World Cup top 3 after more than two years since her last podium in Cooper Mountain in 2013.
In the men's competition it was Aaron Blunck who was able to make the US Freeskiing team proud, grabbing his second-ever World Cup win. Blunck impressed with his super technical run including a stylish switch left-side dub 900, switch right-side dub 10 and enormous right-side dub 12 on the last hit - a trick he just learned last week in Aspen. With another 100 World Cup points, Blunck jumped into first-place in the halfpipe overall classification, taking the lead over Kevin Rolland (FRA) by just 4 points.
"I woke up this morning and decided to just have fun and not to stress too much," said Blunck. "I put down my first run and was so stoked on it, but at the end we have three runs so I had to watch everyone go two more times, and Rolland three times. Kevin is the guy who can get it under pressure any time so I was just super happy that wasn't his day".
Benoit Valentin (FRA) and Rolland went 2nd and 3rd respectively, sharing the halfpipe podium for yet another time. Valentin stomped all three of his runs coming no shorter than 89.80. His winning run consisted of a huge switch left-side 1080 tail to kick the things off and back-to-back dub 10 to dub 12 to finish his run.
"I had my run locked down pretty much. I saved some energy in the training and went all-in in the finals," said Valentin. "It was only enough for the 2nd place but I'm already looking forward to the next competition at home in Tignes".
Kevin Rolland, who was among the biggest favourites for the win today, finished the competition in the 3rd spot. His run with three different dub 12s would have probably challenged the 94.20 set by Blunck had Rolland stomped all of his tricks cleaner. That wasn't the case today and by finishing behind Blunck and Valentin, the French rider had to hand over the yellow jersey he had been carrying from the first World Cup competition in Cardrona (NZL).
It also looked like Alex Ferreira was on a mission today. The young US skier put down what was probably the best run of his career with back-to-back dub 10s followed by back-to-back dub 12s. However, what likely cost him the podium was one small mistake - a missed grab on his final air. Still, with such difficult tricks in the bag, Ferraira should be one to have an eye on in future events.
The last World Cup stop of the season will take place in Tignes on home French soil for both Rolland and Valentin, with that competition scheduled for 9-10th of March.
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