Tess Ledeux and Mcrae Williams claim Sierra Nevada slopestyle gold
Sierra Nevada (ESP) - The last event of the Sierra Nevada 2017 Freestyle Ski & Snowboard World Championships went down on Sunday, with Tess Ledeux (FRA) and Mcrae Williams wrapping up two successful weeks in Spain with gold slopestyle medals.
After a couple of bad weather days with high winds and difficult snow conditions, Sunday morning brought a major improvement as the world's best riders went looking to closer the 2017 world championships out with an exclamation point.
Competition saw the top eight ladies and top 16 men selected through Saturday's qualifications and the semifinal round hosted earlier Sunday morning.
With a strong selection of the best slopestyle athletes in the world on hand in Spain, the anticipation was high to see what would go down as soon as the first riders started dropping in on course.
In the ladies' competition it was 15-years old Ledeux from France who was able to put down a superb second run and, with a score of 85.60 points, claimed the gold medal, also taking the honor of being the youngest world champion in the history of FIS Freestyle Skiing.
The French rider impressed the judges with a solid combination of 540s and 720s on the jumps followed by an equally impressive rail game, with a highlight 450 off the a-frame..
"I'm very happy right now but I still can't believe to win the gold medal," Ledeux said following the awards ceremony, "It's a dream come true and a big motivator for the future. I want to keep progressing my skiing and hopefully be able to aim high also at next year's Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang."
With this first place performance Leduex proved that she is definitely one of the ones to lead slopestyle into the future. The young french rider is having a tremendous breakout season. First, coming in as a World Cup rookie, she managed to grab the victory in the season's first stop in Font Romeu (FRA), then claimed the silver X Games medals in Aspen and Oslo, and finally finished things off with gold in Sierra Nevada.
Second place went to Sweden's Emma Dahlstrom as she added her first world championships medal to an already remarkable collection of top 3 results at the slopestyle and big air World Cup circuit.
Coming as one of the favorites for the podium spot, Dahlstrom didn't disappoint and showcased her trademark style on both jumps and rails pushing it hard in her third and final attempt. However her 83.80 points was not enough to beat the young french skier and she had to settle for a second spot.
"I had some troubles on the course as the wind and changing snow conditions made it hard to figure out the speed, so it was great to finally land a run that I was satisfied with and that it was enough for the second place," the silver medalist Dahlstrom said after the event, "I wanted to give Tess a challenge today, but that girl is consistent and skis with so much power. Despite her young age she's already so inspiring and fun to watch."
Great Britain's Isabel Atkin rounded out the ladies' podium in third with one of the cleanest runs of the days. She ripped through the upper part of the course smoothly, stomping some solid switch spins on the way, and though she kept her rail game rather safe she earned a score of 83.20 points and her piece of the world championships podium.
Over on the men's side USA's Mcrae Williams left no doubts who was the best on the day, as the 2016/17 slopestyle World Cup crystal globe winner put it down when it mattered most this season. Sitting third after run 2, Williams went all-out on his third run sending a massive switch triple 1440 in addition to a very clean and stylish series of doubles as well as some really technical tricks on rails. 93.80 points, big smile and a gold world championships medal for Williams to wrap up two weeks of action in Sierra Nevada.
After couple of solid years in competitive skiing, the experience has started to pay off for Williams. The 26-year-old freeskier from Park City is having an extraordinary season, coming from a silver medal at Aspen X Games, top spot in this season's World Cup opener in Font Romeu as well as the overall slopestyle World Cup victory and the Sierra Nevada 2017 World Championships gold medal as an icing on top of the cake.
"I just can't believe it at this point," Mcrae commented on his gold medal,"I was just super happy to take the World Cup crystal globe and all the other podiums I had this year. This was the most consistent season in my career. I was really pushing for it to end it this way and it's obviously an honor to be here today and I just couldn't be more happy."
Just behind Williams in second spot was his US teammate Gus Kenworthy. After struggling in the halfpipe competition on Saturday, the silver medalist from 2014 Sochi Olympic Games was able to to step it up today and put down a clean third run for a total score of 91.80 points and the silver medal.
Also in men's competition third place went to the UK rider, as James Woods, who ranked second in slopestyle at world championships in Voss back in 2013, claimed his second FIS Freestyle Skiing world championships medal this time adding the bronze one to his collection.
Starting off hot and leading after run one and two, Woods dropped to third after both Kenworthy and Williams stomped their runs. On his final attempt he threw all he had in the tank, and while his run looked like it might be back in the running for the gold, he crashed on the penultimate rail, and ended up finishing the competition with 90.60 points and the third step on the podium.