Gasser and Kleveland take first career wins
Anna Gasser (AUT) and Marcus Kleveland (NOR) kicked off the 2016-17 FIS Snowboard World Cup season in style winning the big air event in Milan (ITA) in front of a stellar crowd on a perfectly prepared site.
EXPerience Park and the Big Air and the City event played host to the first of three stops of the newly launched Super Series with the ramp being erected right across the iconic Tree of Life offering riders an incredible air time to soar through the Italian night.
And the athletes paid back with some high-level performances led by two riders who didn't have the honour yet to step on the top podium spot at a World Cup event.
But while it was the career first for both, Gasser and Klevedal, the young Norwegian and second best qualifier stood out even a bit more as he dominated the men's competition at his World Cup debut.
Viking spins to win - with steez
The 17-years-old from Dombaas stomped the best three tricks of the night (94.50, 93.00, 95.00) securing the victory of the three run, best two count high-level final of the top 10 men qualifiers with the final score of 188.00 for his cab triple 1440 indy and backside triple 1620 melon.
“This is one of the biggest wins I have ever had. It's been really great today. Winning in front of this crowd is just awesome.
It was a really good time although I had quite some hard times during training to land all those tricks. To put it down in the finals is amazing,” the spinning machine stated after the finals where the young Viking had held off some well-known contest machines like Seppe Smits (BEL) and Marc McMorris (CAN).
2011 world champion Seppe Smits tried his best after bailing his first try stomping his first ever triple on a scaffolding jump (backside triple 1440 indy) as well as a super stylish cab 1260 mute which in the end earned him a 178.50 and the second rank he certainly was proud of:
“The level was definitely one of the highest we have ever seen at a World Cup big air event. It was cool to see all the guys throw down. The jump was really comfortable with probably the most air time we ever had at one of those in-city jumps.”
Perfect conditions to celebrate a comeback from injury which at least two riders could emphasize.
One of them: Mark McMorris, who just came back to business more than half a year after he had broken his femur during the Air & Style in Los Angeles and placed third (173.00) after landing his game plan: a backside triple 1440 mute and a switch backside 1260 backside grab.
“It's one thing to get back to snowboarding after injury. I was lucky enough to get back to shredding on a high level. I did a lot of rehab and stuff. But it's another thing to come out and compete on a scaffolding big air when it matters.
It's just more nerve-wracking, even tonight. Last time I rode at night didn't go that well for me. And now, some months later, here we are. I'm super thankful to be back and do what I love,” McMorris explained.
Gasser comes back and earns chapter in Austrian history books
It could have been the statement of Anna Gasser as the Austrian shredder had also been forced to take it easy after sustaining some problems with her intervertebral discs this January.
Nevertheless, after qualifying third for the women's finals, which featured the top 6 athletes of this afternoons qualifications, Gasser paved her way to victory (174.25) at her first scaffolding-jump competition ever with her signature trick, a switch double underflip 900 indy, before wrapping up things with a safe and clean corked backside 720 mute.
“It's great to come back from a long break due to injury, and it also was the first time on a scaffolding jump. It's awesome,” Gasser said, who became the second ever Austrian woman to win a snowboard freestyle World Cup. So far, only Nicola Pederzoli had been the only one to do so five times, last time winning the halfpipe competition in Serre Chevalier back in March 2003.
Hailey Langland (USA, 160.25), a 16-year-old teenager who has now a fourth, third and second rank finish in three World Cup starts under her belt as well as Sarka Pancochova (CZE, 153.75) rounded out the podium in Milan as second and third, respectively.
A result which pleased the young US rider, who also experienced her first ever scaffolding jump, a lot: “It was a little scary, and I was really nervous, but I got to look down to all these people who came here to watch and it made me a little more nervous but also excited. I just wanted to get the people a good show and land the things that I wanted to do. So, I'm extremely happy.
I got to ride with all the girls that I have looked up to my whole live. Coming right behind of Anna [Gasser] who is one of my heroes is great. I had a lot of fun, I can't complain.”
The World Cup tour continues with this season's second big air event slated to take place November 25-26, 2016, at Alpensia Ski Stadium (KOR) serving as official Olympic test event for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang.
The newly launched series will crown the world’s best after three in-city big air stops of the World Cup tour, featuring Milan, Moenchengladbach (GER) and Quebec City (CAN). Click here for more information on the Super Series.
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Full results can be viewed online.