Queralt Castellet and Iouri Podladtchikov triumph in season's second halfpipe contest
In the women's competition at Saas-Fee, the 21-years-old rider from Catalonia (photo: FIS/Oliver Kraus) secured her career's second win with a score of 87 out of a possible maximum of 100 points thus relegating Sophie Rodriguez (FRA, 75.3), who had won last weeks Europa Cup on the Allalin glacier, to the second spot. Ursina Haller (SUI, 75) rounded out the podium as third thus taking over the lead in the halfpipe rankings. On the men's side, 95.3 points were equal to the second victory for Podladtchikov at the highest located freestyle contest of the world wide tour, which is named “Allalin 360” ever since last season. Like in 2010, Ryo Aono (JPN, 91.3) had to be satisfied once again with the second rank. Janne Korpi (FIN, 87), still the leader in the halfpipe and overall freestyle snowboard ranking, finished in third position.
All six podium riders had, just like the other three remaining women and nine remaining men of the finals, to cope with gusty winds, which once again appeared to be part of the event atop of the glacier village, but were able to deliver some high-class riding.
Above all, Iouri Podladtchikov, who was sitting in the snow while listening to some music and waiting for the wind to calm down. When the time came, iPod took advantage of a windless window and dropped in for what turned out to be the winning run: backside 900 mute to frontside 1080 tail, cab 1080 tail, frontside 540 indy and a backside air to finish things off.
“I was so relaxed and just listened to The Doors,” the 23-years-old said. “Just like at my last win here four years ago, I had the same feeling again. A feeling of knowing that I could and would be able to do it. And that's weird as the pipe was icy and it wasn't easy with the wind. But the pipe crew did an amazing job and prepared a perfect pipe. I rarely have runs like this in the training. Even for me, it was a 'wow-run'”.
By winning his career's third, the fourth ranked rider of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics also made some bad memories to forget as Podladtchikov had torn his syndesmosis ligaments last year at the same spot. “I guess I wanted too much last year. So, I tried to take it more relaxed this time. And it worked out. I'm so stoked!”
Castellet comes out on top due to massive air time
While the Swiss national team rider celebrated his third win on home turf, Queralt Castellet was all smiles by winning her second World Cup. And just like the event's top male rider, Castellet seems to have a special connection to the Swiss pipes as she also won here first one in Switzerland: Arosa 2011.
“But I don't think it is related to Switzerland or so. It's got more to do with the top conditions. I'm stoked that I was able to win especially as we all had to cope with the wind while trying to pull down our runs,” explained Castellet.
Throwing in a frontside air to backside 540, frontside 540, backside air and frontside 720, all topped with some incredible amplitude of the tricks, the smallest rider in the field edged off some contenders who might have had more technical runs but didn't stomp them as clean as the Spaniard did.
In the end, not only Sophie Rodriguez (frontside air to McTwist, air to fakie, cab 720, frontside 720 and cab 360) was left standing, but also Ursina Haller who was the only female to try and stick a 900 (frontside 900 to backside 540, frontside 540, backside air, frontside 720, cab 540).
“However, I'm pleased with the result although I could have done better. If I would have pulled down a cleaner run I guess I could have placed better. But I wanted to do this run and am happy that I did so. In the end, it was the right decision,” said 25-years-old Haller.