Miyabi Onitsuka and Ryan Stassel claim slopestyle world title
Miyabi Onitsuka (JPN) and Ryan Stassel (USA) dominated today's slopestyle finals at the FIS Freestyle Ski & Snowboard World Championships in Kreischberg, Austria deservedly taking home the world title.
After mother nature didn't really cooperate on the first training sessions of the slopestyle artists, it seemed to be payback time weather-wise today, when the third snowboard medal contest of the world championships went down in Styria.
Blessed with bluebird sky and a perfectly groomed slope featuring a down rail section, cannon rail, two kickers into a wallride jib section and a huge final kicker, the girls and boys tore the course into pieces showing off some great snowboarding worth to remember.
With the ladies stepping it up compared to the qualifiers it was a 16-year-old from the land of the rising sun to surprise both, judges and their competitors, in the finals.
Reigning national champion Miyabi Onitsuka killed it in her second run with a frontside boardslide to 50/50 frontside 180 out, cab 900, backside 720, 50/50 and a frontside 360 earning 92.50 – a score which none of the other dudettes were able to beat making her the youngest ever world champion in snowboard history.
Earning her biggest victory so far, Onitsuka said: “I'm very happy, especially as the other girls were riding pretty good. I was very nervous, and I am proud to take home the gold.”
Anna Gasser (AUT, 89.50), who had stomped a frontside boardslide to 50/50 indy out, backside 180, cab 720, switch backside boardslide and a frontside 720 finished in second position which equalled the first medal for the hosting nation.
As a result, not only the crowd went wild on the massively packed tribune whilethe 23-year-old felt some weight lifted from her mind.
“I'm so relieved. It was a big pressure on my shoulders. I was very nervous and couldn't throw down my best run due to my hand problems. I didn't want to end up in fourth position. It's amazing that it worked out in my final run. I wanted that medal so badly, and I'm happy that I got one”, Gasser stated.
Klaudia Medlova (SVK, 84.25), who finished third at last year's Kreischberg World Cup rounded out the podium as third earning the first ever world championships medal for her home country.
Stassel first ever US slopestyle world champion
In the men's competition, Stassel, who finished seventh in Stoneham, Canada two years ago took home the world title with one of the highest score ever reported in snowboarding.
After having set the bar already in the first run with 94.00, the Alaska native threw down a killer run in his third run consisting of a hardway backside 270 to 50/50 backside rodeo, frontside 1260 double cork, switch backside 1260, frontside boardslide 270 out and a backside 1260 to finish things off earning a 97.50. It was an impressive score for an impressive which truly was the wage for some hard work in the past.
“I was pretty nervous on top but once you drop in it turns into excitement and you just ride. I'm speechless. I have been working on that run for a long time and it feels really good to finally pull it all together here at the world championships”, Stassel summed up.
However, while he became the first ever snowboard slopestyle world champion for the USA the 2014 Olympian couldn't describe what the title could mean tom him:
“I didn't even thought about it. I had to ride good, now it's happened and here we go.”
2013 world champion Roope Tonteri (FIN, 93.75) claimed silver while Kyle Mack (USA, 92.75) earned bronze.
Having the close result in mind, the dethroned champion from Finland, who was the only one to throw down a 1440 in the men's field to finish off his run which started with a cab 270 to backside boardslide to halfcab to 50/50 to backside 360 out, frontside 1080 inverted, backside 1260 double cork and halfcab to 50/50 to backside 180 out wasn't unhappy at all with silver.
In contrary, he explained that he achieved half of his Kreischberg goal by finishing in the runner-up position:
“I actually said before the contest that as I already have a gold medal to my belt it would be nice to get silver or bronze. I try to get all three colours so hopefully I get bronze in the big air event on Saturday. Why should you be world champion again if you can have a full set. I guess it looks quite nice on your wall.”
We will soon find out if the interior decorator from far up north will be able to complete the medal set he was going for as the story unfolds Friday and Saturday with the big air qualifiers and finals.