Sjaastad Christiansen and Harle take victories in Mammoth slopestyle World Cup
Mammoth Mountain (USA) - Tiril Sjaastad Christiansen (NOR) and Teal Harle (CAN) took victories in the slopestyle World Cup competition in Mammoth, which was staged on Sunday as the final stop of the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix tour.
After the competition program had been reshuffled several times following difficult conditions earlier this week, bluebird skies finally greeted athletes just in time this weekend, as the ultimate World Cup event before the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games went down big time in California’s infamous Mammoth Unbound, wrapping up two intensive weeks of the FIS Freeski World Cup action on US soil.
With some of the world’s best freeskiers at the gates looking to make a cut into their national Olympic teams, anticipation was high with the riders on hand ready to swing into high gear and gain momentum ahead of the Games.
Tiril Sjaastad Christiansen comes back on top of the World Cup podium
In the ladies’ competition the 2015/2016 slopestyle crystal globe winner Tirili Sjaastad Christiansen made an impressive comeback to the top of the World Cup podium following a knee injury that kept her sidelined for the entire last season.
Qualifying in second spot in her heat earlier in the day, the Norwegian skier stepped it up big time in the finals, showing she’s truly back in the game and looking strong while heading into the seasons’ pinnacle event in Korea in a couple of weeks time.
With her technical work on rails followed by a really solid jumps section that included a left-side 900 tail grab, Sjaastad Christiansen earned a high-score of 90.60 points that at the end of the day was just enough to place her on top of the ladies’ field and give her first World Cup victory since her first podium finish at the Olympic test event back in February 2016.
“The last two years have been just such a rollercoaster for me,” stated Sjaastad Christiansen following the award ceremony, “I haven’t been on top of the podium since 2016, but I’ve been working hard since my injury and finally this week I had the feeling that I’m strong. I was outside the Olympic team before coming here and I knew I needed a really good result here. Now everything seems to fall in the right place and I’m just so happy and relieved.”
Second place on the day went to Sweden’s upcoming style maestro and current slopestyle World Cup leader Jennie-Lee Burmansson, as the smooth skier came in hot with another impressive performance this season to remain top of the standings with more than 130 points advantage over second Sjaastad Christiansen with only two more stops to go in the World Cup season.
Representing the host nation on the podium was Caroline Claire, who wrapped up the Mammoth competition in third place while also significantly increasing her chances to make the cut on the US Olympic team.
Teal Harle grabs his second World Cup gold
On the men’s side of the event it was Canadian Teal Harle who proved to be the best on the day and grabbed his career’s second World Cup win with his tremendous second run on Sunday.
Sitting third after the first run, Harle threw everything that he had into his second run, impressing with his rail game while going big on the jumps with a left rodeo screaming seamen mute off the hip to a right double 1260 tail and a switch left double 1440 mute to finish off his run.
Earning a high-score of 94.20 points, Harle didn’t leave much room for anyone else to leapfrog him into top spot and the podium, and the 21-year-old was able to lock in his Olympic spot while heading into the PyeongChang competition looking like a podium threat.
“I actually didn’t really like the course here in Mammoth, but I figured it out on the last run of trainings and it somehow worked out for me in the finals so I’m over the moon now,” said Harle after the competition.
Ripping for the Swiss freeski team, Andri Ragettli finished the competition in second place, making it his second World Cup podium finish in the last two weeks. Ragettli also took the yellow World Cup leader bib from Oystein Braaten (NOR), who skipped the competition in Mammoth.
Harle’s Canadian teammate Evan McEachran rounded out the men’s podium on third for his second World Cup podium showing this season.
The slopestyle World Cup tour takes a break now, with the PyeongChange 2018 Olympic Winter Games taking over the winter sports world in February, but we will be back in March with the last two stops of the seasons slated to take place in Silvaplana (SUI) and Seiser Alm (ITA).