SN2017 so far: Highlights of the 2017 Freestyle Ski world championships
Sierra Nevada, SPA - As we reach the halfway point of the Sierra Nevada 2017 Freestyle Ski & Snowboard World Championships we take a look back at some of the incredible action that has already gone down at 16th iteration of the biennial Freestyle Ski championships.
MOGULS AND DUAL MOGULS
Ikuma Horishima first man to take double gold, youngest moguls world champion
It had been done four times before on the ladies’ side - by Kari Traa in 2001 and 2003, then by Aiko Uemura (JPN) in 2009, and then again by Jennifer Heil (CAN) in 2011 - but Ikuma Horishima’s jaw-dropping moguls and dual moguls gold-medal winning performances in Sierra Nevada marked the first time a men’s moguls skier has ever accomplished the world championships double.
Only adding to Horishima’s legendary performance is the fact that, at the age of 19 years, 2 months, and 25 days, he became the youngest men’s moguls (and dual moguls) world champion of all time.
Perrine Laffont becomes second-youngest moguls world champion of all-time
Just 11 months removed from her gold medal-winning performance at the Are 2016 FIS Junior World Ski Championships (her third JWC gold medal), Perrine Laffont (FRA) took it to a whole nother level in the Sierra Nevada 2017 dual moguls competition, besting Kazakstan’s Yulia Galysheva in an extremely closely-fought super final to claim the gold medal. At 18 years, 4 months, and 5 days old at the time of her win, Laffont puts herself in the record books as the second-youngest lady to ever stand on top of a world championships dual moguls podium.
Mikael Kingsbury (CAN) moves into tie for second all-time on WSC medals list
By nearly any metric, the Sierra Nevada 2017 world championships will go down as a disappointment for Canada’s Mikael Kingsbury, who has built a strong claim to the title of “Greatest moguls skier of all-time” over his eight seasons of World Cup and international competition.
Coming into Sierra Nevada on the heels of his sixth consecutive season of taking both the moguls and Freestyle overall crystal globes, and riding a seven-straight World Cup competition win streak, Kingsbury was the odds-on favourite to dominate the moguls events at the 2017 World Championships.
However, after managing just a bronze in the single moguls, Kingsbury was shut-out of the podium completely after losing to eventual champion Ikuma Horishima in the 1/8 finals of the dual moguls competition.
Still, Kingsbury’s bronze medal would be the seventh of his world championships career, furthering his lead on the men’s all-time list and moving him into a tie for second with Kari Traa in the overall rankings.
Ashley Caldwell becomes first lady to land quad-twisting triple-flip in competition
All Ashley Caldwell (USA) needed was 10 seconds to drop in, get up to speed, launch seven meters in the air while spinning four times and flipping three, land, ride away, and change ladies’ aerials competition forever.
While it had been attempted before - most notably by Lydia Lasslia (AUS), who came oh-so-close to a clean landing the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games - Caldwell’s gold medal-winning full, double-full, full on Friday night’s aerials world championship competition marks the first time a ladies’ aerialist has landed a quad-twisting triple flip in competition.
USA takes men’s and ladies’ gold medals for first time in 22 years
Shortly after Caldwell’s history-making triumph, her teammate Jonathon Lillis decided it was his turn to get in the US squad’s celebration, using his final jump of the competition to land a full, full, double full and give the USA both the ladies’ and the men’s world championships titles.
Lillis’ win halted what was shaping up to be a world championships three-peat for China’s Qi Guangpu, and together with Caldwell he was able to give the USA aerials team its first double world champs golds since Nikki Stone and Trace Worthington did it 22 years ago in La Clusaz (FRA).
With six medal events down and six to go, the USA currently leads the medal table with four (two gold, one silver, one bronze), followed by Australia and France with three apiece, Japan, China, and Canada with two, and the Swiss and Kazakstan with one medal each.
While Snowboard competition continues to take centre stage into early next week, the Freestyle side of Sierra Nevada 2017 looks forward to ski cross, halfpipe, and slopestyle world championship competitions to close out the events in Spain from March 16-19.
Sierra Nevada data page (competition schedule and up-to-date results)
FIS Freestyle YouTube page (video highlights)