Gaskell and Ragettli kick off the World Cup season with big wins in New Zealand
Cardrona, NZL - The first FIS Freeski big air World Cup of the 2018/2019 season went down on Friday at Cardrona Alpine Resort with Canada’s Elena Gaskell and Switzerland’s Andrii Ragettli claiming huge victories to wrap up two weeks of freeski action at the Audi quattro Winter Games New Zealand.
Blue skies and calm conditions welcomed some of the world’s best freeskiers on top of Cardrona’s 75-foot big air jump, making for a perfect background to what appeared to be one of the heaviest competition we’ve ever witnessed on the FIS Freeski World Cup tour.
Starting off with the ladies’ it was Elena Gaskell who stomped her switch 1260 on her second run of three, holding her mute grab all the way for the massive score of 93.00 points. That put her straight into the first place position that she would hold on for the rest of the day, claiming her career’s very first World Cup victory.
“I’m pretty stoked!” agreed Gaskell. “My training was bad so I was nervous coming in. My first jump, I kept it pretty simple just doing a 720. Then my second jump I did one of my harder tricks, the switch 12 and landed so I was pretty stoked. It’s a good way to start the season off.”
Caroline Claire (USA) finished the competition on the second spot with a switch 900 octo grab and a left 720 tail grab, while Gaskell’s teammate Yuki Tsubota rounded out the ladies’ podium on third with a left 900 tail grab and a right 540 mute grab.
Things got even more interesting over on the men’s side with the conclusion coming in the final of three runs. Reigning slopestyle World Cup champion Andri Ragettli crashed on his first attempt, but then pulled through with a score of 91.00 for his triple 1620 truckdriver and a perfectly stomped switch triple 1440 truck driver on run three for another score of 91.00 that pushed him to top of the leaderboard.
“It feels amazing, what a start to the new season,” said Ragettli. “My day started not that well, I missed my first jump, didn’t land it, but then put the second and third run down perfectly and won the event, I’m super stoked.”
Top qualifier Evan McEachran (CAN) capped off Cardrona’s competition in second place, putting down an incredible switch double 1800 tail grab before landing a right side 1620 safety grab with the last jump of the competition.
“I’m not much of a big air skier so I kind of surprised myself today,” said the slopestyle specialist McEachran, who clinched his career’s third World Cup podium with his second place finish in Cardrona.
Third place on the day went to the local Kiwi Finn Bilous, who was pushing it hard in front of the home crowd, stomping new tricks one after another all week long to grab his very first spot on the World Cup podium.
“We got up here, conditions were perfect and training went off,” explained Bilous. “Everyone was doing crazy tricks from the get-go so you knew it was going to be a gnarly contest. It definitely lived up to those expectations. I landed a new trick both yesterday and today and those were the tricks that just got me on the podium.”
Bilous’ first jump, the switch triple rodeo 1440, was the single highest scoring tick of the day (93.6) and initially had him in first place at the end of run one. He then went a bit too big with a forward triple cork 1440 on run two and had to squat down on the landing, but cleaned it up for run three to finish in third place.
“I’m ecstatic,” said Bilous. “I’m super stoked just to land the jumps, and to end up on the podium in front of the home crowd is very rewarding.”
The big air World Cup tour will be back in action again in two months with the second stop of the season slated to go down in Modena (ITA) on November 4.