2016/17 slopestyle World Cup recap
The 2016/17 FIS Freestyle Ski slopestyle World Cup saw five competitions in five different countries for the ladies - and four events for the men after their side of things got snowed out in Mammoth Mountain (USA) - spread out across North America and Europe, from Seiser Alm in Italy all the way to Canada’s Stoneham resort. With brand-new stops at Stoneham and in Font Romeu, France, as well as a return to the always-exciting Corvatsch terrain park in Silvaplana to cap off the tour, this season’s slopestyle World Cup once again showcased the best in freeskiing - huge fields, innovative course designs, and progressive riding.
Let’s look back at some of this season’s biggest stories…
The races for the 2016/17 slopestyle crystal globes were two of the tightest of the season, with Mcrae Williams (USA) taking the men’s title by just eight points, with 180 to 2015/16 crystal globe winner Andri Ragettli’s 172, and ladies’ winner Sarah Hoefflin (SUI) eking out the title by the barest of possible margins, topping Johanne Killi (NOR) by a single point - 281-280.
Hoefflin’s globe win was likely the most dramatic of the 2016/17 FIS Freestyle season, with the Swiss rider more or less blowing an chance to control her own destiny by missing the finals at the final event of the season in Silvaplana, finishing just outside of the finals in 12th place, with Killi making it through to the eight skier final.
However, once there in the final it was Killi’s turn to let opportunity slip away, as the 19-year-old crashed big in her first Silvaplana run before gutting out a second run that was just not quite good enough, ending up in sixth place on the day and second place in the final standings.
For the 26-year-old Williams over on the men’s side, things were a little bit simpler when it came time to take the first ever slopestyle crystal globe for the USA, showing up for just the first and final competitions of the season and getting the job done at the both of them.
With a win to open the season in Font Romeu and a second-place finish to wrap things up in Silvaplana, Williams was nothing if not efficient in 2016/17, and when he wrapped it all up with a gold medal performance at the Sierra Nevada 2017 Freestyle Ski & Snowboard World Championships in Spain, the stylish ripper from Park City put his stamp the season while setting himself up nicely amongst a stacked US squad for a spot on the team for the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
Ask any freeskier what it’s all about and they’ll have two answers, 99 times out of 100 - progression, and having fun. With that in mind, every year we’re looking to bring the best in new course design to every competition on the World Cup tour. However, talking about sick features is kind of like dancing about art, so check out some visuals for a better idea…
First time’s a charm
No event in Freestyle evolves quite as quickly or more dramatically than does slopestyle, with new tricks shifting from “never-been-done” to “gotta have it” over the course of a season, never seen before course features springing up as quickly as the course builders can dream them, and a new crop of athletes showing up on scene every December ready to push the envelope.
Just taking a look down the list of the nine winners of this past season’s competitions and you can see another example of the ever-evolving nature of slopestyle, with fully eight of the nine winners in 2016/17 claiming victory for the first time on the FIS Freestyle slopestyle World Cup.
All five of this season’s ladies winners - Tess Ledeux (FRA), Sarah Hoefflin, Maggie Voisin (USA), Johanne Killi, and Isabel Atkin (GBR) - saw the top of the podium for the first time this season, with Killi putting in the most work by getting there in her 15th World Cup competition.
Meanwhile, over on the men’s side, Andri Ragettli was the only repeat victor of the season, with Mcrae Williams, Colby Stevenson (USA), and Teal Harle (CAN) all claiming their first career World Cup wins, with Stevenson the ending the longest draught at 18 competitions.
With four different men and five different ladies taking the wins in this season's competitions, and nearly all of those winners proving themselves the best for the first time this season, this season’s tour showed once again why World Cup slopestyle competition is some of the most exciting, unpredictable, and progressive skiing on display anywhere in the world.