World Champion ready for another snowboard slopestyle title

18 January 2015 19:23
Challenging training days for the slopestyle riders at the Kreischberg WCS
Challenging training days for the slopestyle riders at the Kreischberg WCS -
Oliver Kraus

It was a late arrival in Kreischberg for Roope Tonteri last night. At 2 AM in the morning, the reigning big air and slopestyle world champion finally arrived after a long day of competing in the air and style event in Innsbruck.

Just a few hours later, fully equipped with accreditation and gear, the 22-year-old Sochi Olympian was on the hill for the second day of slopestyle training; actually it was the first time, Tonteri was able to check out the course.

But as yesterday's training was a tough one for all riders due to challenging weather and tough snow conditions, the Finnish styler had not really missed anything.

However, today was also foggy, but as the snowboarders were able to hit the course (rail section, a canon rail, two kickers, a wallride jib section and a huge final kicker) before the slopestyle skiers, Tonteri and the rest of the field had some decent time to get used to the flow of the course line.

Besides Tonteri, there are a few more riders to watch out for in this season's first high-level contest which starts with qualifiers tomorrow with the finals going down two days later.

Swedish big crystal globe winner of last season Mans Hedberg, who also won the Kreischberg 2014 World Cup event has high hopes, too.

"It’s gonna be great fun to ride here in Kreischberg again. The Course is fun to ride and the atmosphere is really nice here. Last time the weather was great and the snow was slushy which I really like to ride, so yeah I have great memories and hopefully I can bring back even better memories with me home to Sweden this time."

But Hedberg has to keep an eye on Kyle Mack (USA), British Olympian Billy Morgan, Petja Piiroinen (FIN), Mathias Weissenbacher (AUT) and Darcy Sharpe (CAN) in qualifier heat 1.

Men's heat 2 features the likes of Tonteri and his team mates Janne Korpi, Nuutti Niemelae and Ville Paumola. In addition, Ryan Stassel (USA), Niklas Mattsson (SWE) and Jamie Nicholls (GBR) also are in for a top-4 rank in the qualifiers which would mean securing a ticket to the finals scheduled for Wednesday, January 21st at 11 AM CET.

In the women's competition, it's even harder to earn a spot for the finals as only the top-3 of both heats will make it. So, a tight battle for the tickets is most likely to expected. Especially as both ladies' heats feature some girls who are known for there stylish riding.

Last year's Kreischberg world cup winner Sarka Pancochova who also took home the crystal globe wants to improve her result in the halfpipe event of the world championships.

Hosting nation Austria will pin its hopes on Anna Gasser. However, the 23-year-old is a little bit handicapped by a plaster cast which she has to wear after she injured her left wrist in the USA. But the athlete from Carinthia is definitely capable of surviving the strong cut in the qualifiers.

So are Swiss top gun Sina Candrian and US shooting start Ty Walker, the first ever big air world cup winner in history.

In heat 2, Aimee Fuller (GBR) and Elena Koenz (SUI) are definitely shining out while Kristina Nisula (FIN) and Klaudia Medlova (SVK) are justifiable aspire their spot in the finals.

Top-2 girls and top-4 boys of each heat will go straight to the finals. Girls ranked 3-5 of each heat and boays ranked 5-8 of each heat will get their second chance for a ticket to the finals in the semis (9:10 AM CET) on Wednesday.

A total of 6 ladies and 10 men will start in the finals.