Dahlstrom and Christensen claim Park City slopestyle victories
PARK CITY, USA – Joss Christensen (USA) laid down a magical final run in front of his hometown fans and Emma Dahlstrom (SWE) came out of the gate nearly perfect on her first run, as the two top qualifiers were able to keep their strong skiing going in finals to win the Park City Grand Prix/World Cup slopestyle on Friday.
In the ladies' event Dahlstrom, who was fresh off a win at last month's X Games in Aspen, showed once again that she's one of the very best in the slopestyle game, putting down a cool first run that was bigger, smoother, and more technical than anything any of the other ladies had to offer. With tricks like a frontside 450 out of the big tube rail and a mint switch left-side 720 mute on the final kicker, first place on the day and the overall win of the USSA's Grand Prix series was her just reward.
“I felt pretty good the whole way through,” Dahlstrom said of leading from qualifiers through to the finish, “I missed out on the first practice day because of delayed flights, but then in qualies I got a pretty good feeling and today it worked. Everything's been going pretty well so far this year.”
Behind Dahlstrom, runner-up Devin Logan (USA) and third place finisher Tiril Sjaastad Christiansen (NOR) also skied well throughout the day, with Logan also throwing a switch left 720 on the final jump and Sjaastad Christensen launching her switch right-side 540 high safety on the first of the two booters.
Logan's podium means she now has a chance to go two-for-two on the weekend, as the well-rounded skier is also qualified for Saturday's halfpipe competition. And for Sjaastad Christiansen, Friday's result was an impressive return to competition after being forced to pull out of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games last season and undergo surgery on her knee.
After the strong ladies' showing, the men took things to another level, with Christensen writing the storybook ending to an exciting day.
After struggling through his first two runs, Christensen stood as the last man at the top of the course on the hill he grew up riding, with all the pressure of the weekend on his shoulders. Ahead of him, his USA brethren McRae Williams and Gus Kenworthy had both just put down their strongest runs of the day to sit 1-2 respectively.
With his hometown crowd holding their collective breath, Christensen dropped and proceed to nail every trick on his way to a final hit switch double cork 1080 safety that he sent halfway down the landing and stomped clean for the win.
Christensen was a mixture of relieved and excited in the finish area following his win.
“I’m really stoked. It’s definitely hard dropping last when there’s no one behind you and knowing it’s up to you to either do well or not. I wanted to shoot for first and not ninth or whatever I was (before the final run). Usually you want to get that first good run out of the way, but today I fell on my first two, which doesn’t happen to me too often.
“I was really nervous going into this third one. I really wanted to land a run. I was sitting in 10th place, so I knew I just wanted to do well. I was up there alone, and I was just thinking I wanted to do the best I could and try and prove myself. So I just went for it, and I’m glad I went for it because it worked out.”
While Williams, also from Park City, was knocked to second place, his performance on Friday netted him his highest-ever competitive score, and he impressed with a run that was arguably the most technical of the day.
For Kenworthy, Friday's third-place showing was the second step in what could be an incredible streak for the 23-year-old, as just last weekend he took top honours at the inaugural Air + Style ski big air. As he is also qualified for Saturday's halfpipe finals, a podium there would earn him the distinction of scoring a top-three result in all three of the major freeskiing events within the span of a week.