Rukajarvi and Parrot top Europe's most prestigious snowboard event
Enni Rukajarvi (FIN) and Max Parrot (CAN) have earned their chapters in the history books winning the LAAX OPEN 2017 slopestyle event which was part of the Snowboard Freestyle World Cup tour for the very first time and featured a field able to throw down the best and creative tricks.
And that's what happened on the 500 metres long and creative course at Crap Sogn Gion.
Facing superb conditions and a blue bird sky, 26-year-old Rukajarvi, who had already dominated the semi finals, brought down a smashing second run to secure her career's second win in four years.
The 2014 Olympic silver medallist and first ever FIS slopestyle world champion landed a boardslide to pretzel out, switch backside 180 mute, frontside 720 tail, backside 540 stalefish, cab 720 stalefish, half cab up frontside 50-50 and a front board to fakie to finish things off earning a score of 84.83.
“Winning hear is nice,” she said. “I'm really happy. I really liked the course, and the atmosphere is always great, too. That helps. It's a good vibe riding here.”
Current World Cup leader Anna Gasser who is in the form of her life finished second with a score of 83.71 extending her World Cup podium streak to six in six starts.
“It was a very hard contest on a very high level. I knew I had to risk a lot to make it on the podium.
Maybe it would have worked out for the win if I wouldn't have screwed up my last trick on the final rail feature. But I'm very happy with my second rank finish as the world's best did compete today,” stated the 26-year-old from Carinthia who is looking good to bring home her career's first World Cup title – not only in slopestyle but also in the big air and the overall snowboard freestyle race for the Crystal Globe.
Olympic slopestyle champion and 2016 LAAX OPEN title holder Jamie Anderson (USA; 81.50) who was in first place after the first of three runs rounded out the women's podium of the 2016-17 slopestyle World Cup season's second tour stop as third.
Although she failed to bring down her second and third run, Anderson, who had sustained a cut right above her right eye during competition, underlined the importance of the event for the snowboard scene:
“It was a great contest, really progressive. It was fun to be a part of it. Unfortunately I fell in both of my last two runs which was a bit of a bummer. I love the park in Laax, it has always a cool and creative set-up.”
Canadian boys repeat historical triumph
In the men's event, Canada Snowboard once again left its mark in the Swiss Alps. After five riders had placed in the top-5 in last year's event, the Canuck roster did its home country proud with a podium sweep led by Max Parrot.
A Canadian podium sweep at the LAAX OPEN - again © Miha Matavz
The man in black himself had nailed it already in the second run (89.00) but was able to cement his position on the top spot with a 50-50 to backlip, backside rodeo 900, cab double cork 1260 mute, frontside triple cork 1440, backside triple cork 1620 mute, half cab up frontside 50-50 to frontside 180 out and a cab hardway 270 to front board to 270 out.
“Winner of the LAAX OPEN 2017 – that sounds sweet. I'm really happy. I was able to bring down a run which I was aiming for with the backside triple 16 at the end. So, I'm really stoked to win this event for the first time,” explained Parrot who secured his career's fifth and second of the season after having triumphed in the big air event in Copper Mountain earlier this winter.
Earning a score of 91.58 in his final run Parrot set 2016 LAAX OPEN champion Mark McMorris – the last man dropping in after Seb Toots had pulled out of the contest due to a heavy crash yesterday – under pressure.
The 2014 Sochi bronze medallist tried to step up his game with a backside triple 16, too, but couldn't land his run as clean as he wanted to finally placing second with a score of 88.96 for his 50-50 to backlip to fakie, cab 720 nose, switch backside 1260 stalefish, frontside triple cork 1440 mute, backside triple cork 1440 indy, frontside 180 up, switch boardslide to regular and a final backside 180 up to switch 50-50 to cab 360 out.
However, McMorris was still pleased with the result: “I'm happy with the way I rode, and I landed the run I wanted to. You always learn and that's good. It's good to be part of this contest. Staying in the top one and two over the whole course of the event is pretty good. I'm really happy about the second.”
Last year's LAAX OPEN runner-up Tyler Nicholson celebrated his career's third podium, the first in slopestyle after finishing twice in second position in the big air events in Quebec (2015, 2016) thanks to a lipslide to front board, backside rodeo japan, cab 1440 stalefish, switch backside 1260 japan, frontside 1440 mute, backside 360 up, frontside 50-50 to backside 180 out and a half cab to 50-50 to frontside 180 out.
As four more teammates had also made it to the men's finals it seems obvious that the Canadian roster is doing things right at the moment.
“Our team is very well organised. We have pretty good camps which helps us a lot, and we get a really great support with physios and couple of coaches. It's an amazing team support, and I guess that's why we are doing so well right now,” Parrot pointed out.
It will be interesting to see if Team Canada can keep the momentum in the next slopestyle events at Seiser Alm (ITA) and Mammoth Mountain (USA) before finally flying home for the Snowjamboree in Quebec City mid of February.
The snowboard freestyle World Cup tour continues tomorrow with the halfpipe finals of the LAAX OPEN starting at 1:00 PM CET with the three run, best one count finals streamed live worldwide from run two on (1:45 PM CET) on the event's homepage.
Full results of this season's second slopestyle World Cup staged at the LAAX OPEN (SUI) today can be viewed online.