Quebec City big air Jamboree closes out 2017/18 in style
Quebec City (CAN) - The 2017/18 FIS Freestyle World Cup season ended with a bang on Saturday afternoon in Quebec City (CAN), where a 40m tall jump crafted out of snow and scaffold in the heart of the city played venue for a dramatic freeski showdown. At the end of the day the huge crowd on hand was treated to victories by Canada’s own Dara Howell and Norway’s Christian Nummedal (NOR), while Silvia Bertagna (ITA) and Nummedal took the big air crystal globes in a thrilling down-to-the-wire battle.
Howell takes first big air win, Bertagna leaves with the globe
Though the six-skier ladies’ final field was whittled down to just four athletes after injuries to Canadians Kim Lamarre and Elena Gaskell, those skiers that remained in the competition stepped up to put on a show.
Bertagna came into competition sitting in fifth overall on the big air rankings, needing a win or a second place result to give herself a chance to become the first Italian lady to win a Freestyle globe in any event. However, she would also need some luck, as a finish by Chile’s Dominique Ohaco of third or better would give Ohaco the globe.
As it turned out, luck would be on Bertagna’s side, as Ohaco struggled to find her form throughout the best-two-of-three jump final, finishing fourth of four on the day and missing out on what would have been the first Freestyle globe for any Chilean athlete in history.
For her part, Bertagna looked to be on her way to a victory through the first two runs of the afternoon, with switch left 720 mute and left 900 tail putting her in top spot heading into the final run of the night.
Howell, however, had other ideas, as the Sochi 2014 Olympic gold medalist who was competing in her first-ever big air competition dropped in for her last World Cup run of the season and proceeded to stomp a right 720 inside safety. Added together with her score for her earlier switch technical switch left side bio 1080 mute, Howell would finish up with a combined score of 175 points to edge Bertagna by just a single point.
“It feels great to get the win in my first big air,” Howell smiled as she waited for the awards ceremony, “And to do it here in Canada as well, it’s a good way to end the season. I’m really happy to put those tricks down today and walk away with a win.
“The field was a little smaller than normal but these girls killed it today. Silvia and Dominique have done a lot of big airs and they made it so much fun. It’s cool for our sport to put on a show like today in front of a crowd like this.”
While Bertagna was unable to stomp a final hit 1080 that might have given her the victory in the competition, she walked away the big winner of the big air season by doing some edging of her own, finishing just seven points clear of Ohaco to take the globe.
“I can’t believe it. It feels amazing,” Bertagna said from the finished, surprised to learn she had taken the title, “I hadn’t really thought about the globe. I just wanted to come out here and have a good competition. This season wasn’t so good for me, I wasn’t able to go to the Olympics, so this is a bit of revenge.
“This competition is so cool. It’s so good to stand up at the top of the ramp and see so many people standing all over the highway, and the jump was perfect.”
Third on the day went to Howell’s Canadian teammate Megan Cressey, as the 18-year-old competing in her first-ever World Cup competition walked away with her first-ever podium in the process, earning a combined score of 152.80 on the evening.
Nummedal takes the win and the globe, inspired by Ambuehl
Over in the men’s competition the day started with two skiers in a dead heat atop the World Cup big air rankings, with Christian Nummedal and Elias Ambuehl (SUI) coming into the Jamboree tied with 129 points each and both looking strong through training and qualifications.
From the outset it appeared Ambuehl would be tough for anyone to beat, stomping both of his first two hits with authority to jump out to the lead heading into the final run of the evening. Nummedal, meanwhile, was facing considerable pressure after faltering on his first jump, and desperately needed a clean final run to challenge Ambuehl.
And get that clean run he would, as on his third and final jump Nummedal upped the ante considerably by stomping a left-side triple corked 1620 safety all the way at the bottom of the landing that would earn him the highest score of any trick on the evening and propel him into top spot with a combined score of 189 points.
Just after Nummedal in the third run went Hugo Burvall of Sweden, and he too was able to put down another clean hit when it counted most, leapfrogging Ambuehl to move into second place with a score of 182.40 upon landing a stylish switch right side double 1440 double tail grab.
Then it was Ambuehl’s turn, and unfortunately for the highly-respected veteran it would not go as planned. Attempting the same trick that had launched Nummedal into the lead - the left triple corked 1620 - Ambuehl also put his skis down deep in the landing. However, unlike Nummedal, he wasn’t able to hold on through the run out, arcing to his left and crashing into the safety padding feet first.
With the crash, Nummedal would be guaranteed the globe, while Ambuehl would leave the venue with a leg injury.
However, there were still five skiers to go, including Teal Harle, the smooth skiing 21-year-old who won the Mammoth Mountain slopestyle World Cup earlier this season. Harle would put down a lofty, stylish left side double corked 720 safety to also jump above Ambuehl and nearly catch Burvall with his score of 184, giving the Canadians their third podium of the day at the season-ending competition.
With nearly every other skier in the field failing to put down a clean jump in their final turn, both the competition victory and the globe would go to Nummedal in a well-deserved storybook finish to the season for the veteran of 24 World Cup competitions.
And, in a remarkable turn of events, Nummedal credits Ambuehl for hyping him up to try the triple corked trick that would give him the win.
“I’m out of words,” said Nummedal, emotion creeping into his voice, “I came here in first overall together with Elias, but I tried to not think about that too much and tried to have fun an ski as best as I could. But today wasn’t going so good. I crashed in practice and then missed the grab on my first run. Then did a switch double 14 on my second jump that I was really stoked on.
“For the last hit I was just gonna do a double 12 because I didn’t think the jump was big enough for a triple. But Elias actually pumped me up to try the triple even though we were tied in the standings going for the globe. Mad props to Elias. He’s a legend. He’s the realest. I hope he’s back soon and it’s not too serious.”
The Swiss team would finish the season with the Nations Cup trophy as the strongest team in FIS big air competition in 2017/18.
- Full ladies’ results
- Ladies’ final big air World Cup rankings
- Ladies’ highlight video
- Full men’s results
- Men’s final big air World Cup rankings
- Men’s highlight video