Tsubota and Christensen dominate Mammoth slopestyle
The weather finally gave us a break and the final competition of the Mammoth Mountain Grand Prix/World Cup weekend went down without a hitch on Sunday, with Yuki Tsubota (CAN) and Joss Christensen (USA) claiming slopestyle victory on the big Mammoth Unbound course.
After so many days of variable weather, the gods were finally on competition's side, and a big program for the day saw qualification and finals go down in quick succession.
In the ladies' competition there weren't too many surprises heading into finals, with Kreichberg 2015 world champion Lisa Zimmermann (GER) leading a field of eight that also included Sochi 2014 Olympic silver medallist Kim Lamarre (CAN) and Tiril Sjaastad Christiansen (NOR), who came into Mammoth as the World Cup leader after her win at the season-opening competition in Cardrona (NZL).
However, none of those heavy hitters would find themselves on the podium, as Zimmermann couldn't land a complete run and Sjaastad Christiansen and Lemarre couldn't put their best on display on the challenging Mammoth course.
However, Lemarre's teammate Tsubota had no problems, stomping her first run with a clean line through the rails before nailing a corked 720 into a right-side 540 through the ladies' jump line to earn herself a score of 84.40 that would end up being the only score to hit the 80's in ladies' competition.
“I'm ecstatic right now,” said Tsubota on scoring her first World Cup win, “It was a frustrating week for all of us. It was windy, it was snowy, it was all kinds of weather. Today was the first time I really hit the jumps, but it wasn't too bad. We're all so good, we know how to do the tricks, it's just getting used to the jumps. But we're all at the level where we can do that.”
Second on the day went to 17-year-old Giulia Tanno (SUI), the Swiss national slopestyle champion. Tanno's switch left-side 900 on the final jump was one of the standout tricks of the day, and her first-run final score of 74.40 would hold up to earn her her first World Cup podium in just her fifth event.
Third-place went to second-overall competitor Emma Dahlstrom (SWE), who stepped up to nail her second run after falling in her first. Her switch lipslide with a tailgrab out on the canon rail oozed style, and her final score of 76.20 would be enough to knock Johanne Killi (NOR) off the podium and into fourth.
For the men, Sochi gold medallist Joss Christensen put on a clinic on Sunday, nailing both his runs with big tricks and smooth style. His first run, which included three double-corks that were highlighted by his first-jump left-side 1260, earned him a mark 89.00 that would be only just enough to give him the edge over his good friend and second-place finisher Mcrae Williams (USA).
“I’m really excited how things ended up,” said Christensen from the finish area. “In finals I wanted to do some crazier stuff, maybe some bigger tricks, but I just wanted to put one run down and I’m glad I tried to take a safe run. I’m just glad it worked out. I’m laughing right now, I can’t believe it. I qualified pretty low so I watched 12 people after me take runs. Everyone put down such amazing runs sometimes you don’t know where the judges are going to judge you, so I’m excited where I ended up.”
Williams second-place run was an exercise in style and showmanship, with a nose-butter 450 on to switch off on the downrail, and final hit switch left-side triple-corked 1440 that was unarguably the nicest of the handful of triples that got thrown on the day. His first run earned him a score of 88.40 – just .6 of a point back from Christensen – and a runner-up standing that would outlast all challenges.
Third on the day went to top qualifier Oystein Braaten (NOR), who was able to take advantage of his position as the final skier of the competition to nail a clean run that included a corked 630 out of the stairset up-rail and a switch left-side double-corked 1260 on the middle jump.
With his result on Sunday combined with a third-place at the season-opener in Cardrona, Christensen moved up to 160 points and stole the yellow World Cup leader's bib from James Woods (GBR).
Woods finished eighth on the day on the strength of a highlight second run that saw him ski cleanly out of the final jump on one leg after losing his ski in the landing. Braaten also surpassed Woodsy on the day, and moved into second overall with 140 points.
For the ladies, fifth-place Sjaastad Christensen was able to hold on to top spot overall with 145, while Tsubota moved to 129 points and second overall.
Tsubota winning run:
Front swap on the down-flat-down to switch, switch on the bouncy rail, frontside slide 450 out, corked 720, right side 540
Christensen winning run:
Switch right lipslide 270 on 270 off, left lipslide 450 on 450 off, switch left 270 on pretzel 450 off, left double 1260, switch right double 1080, switch left double 1080