Rukajarvi and Smits mount Seiser Alm throne
Enni Rukajarvi (FIN) and Seppe Smits (BEL), who both had earned the first ever slopestyle world championships title back in 2011, have claimed victory in today's third slopestyle competition of the 2016-17 season which was staged at Seiser Alm (ITA) under a blue bird sky.
It was the first time that the Italian resort hosted a snowboard World Cup event.
Facing perfect conditions in a well-designed course of the award-winning Snowpark nestling in the South Tyrolean Resort, Rukajarvi kept the momentum of her last weekend's LAAX OPEN triumph securing back-to-back wins by posting the high score of 81.70 in a close women's three run, best on count final of the top-6 qualifiers.
The 2014 Olympic silver medallist landed a lipslide, 50-50 backside 360 out and a front blunt 270 out in the jibbing section before going into a frontside 360 melon, backside 540 indy and cab 720 mute over the jumps to take home her third World Cup win.
“So far, I'm really surprised. It's hard to believe to have back-to-back wins under my belt. It's cool. I'm really happy,” she said before also explaining why she was absent from the contest scene since the Sochi Olympic Winter Games.
“I have been competing for many years now. At some point I just did too many contests. I took a break of that, and now it's fun to do contests again.”
Laurie Blouin (CAN; 80.50) finished second and locked in her career's second World Cup podium by edging off Swiss Sina Candrian (80.40) to third with the tiny mere of 0.10.
“Today was just crazy. It's been the best contest I have ever ridden in in regards of the conditions. And it's been a very high level of riding. It's cool to see that because the girls are pushing each other. I'm really happy,” stated Blouin whose run had included cab double cork 900 while Candrian had been the sole female to stomp a frontside 1080 in the women's finals.
The rise of the flatlanders
In the men's event which saw ten riders going for the win, things were also getting pretty tight with Seppe Smits earning his career's third but first in slopestyle with a score of 88.30 relegating British style machine Jamie Nicholls (87.90) to the second rank.
Smits threw down a backside lipslide to fakie, cab 180 backside 360 out and backside 270 in the rail section before going into the kicker line with a frontside 900 mute to a huge cab 1260 stalefish and a backside 1260 mute to finish things off.
It was a run which had took some time to be put together Smits admitted after his first ever slopestyle World Cup tirumph:
“I'm very satisfied with today's results. I was kind of feeling it today after the first days of practise had been a bit hard for me. So I switched up everything, figured out a good run to do and I managed to land it in my first run. I'm pretty hyped.”
Jamie Nicholls, who had pulled out of the Kreischberg World Cup two weeks ago therefore missing some action in the race for the Crystal Globe, was more than satisfied with his outcome. But not only because he finally got rid of the knee brace today.
“It's amazing. The whole practice went so well, and I landed my run every time. In the finals I messed it up twice. But in the third run of the finals I finally landed it. So, I'm really happy.”
With Sebbe de Buck (BEL, 85.75) – the third ever Belgian rider to step on a World Cup podium – rounding out the podium as third and Billy Morgan (GBR, 84.40) placing fourth, it was not only a great outing for the two countries known for their dry and indoor slopes but also the best result in World Cup history for riders from the flatlands.
On top of that, it was the first time in history, that two Belgians climbed the podium together with de Buck celebrating his career's first top-3 result.
The snowboard freestyle World Cup tour continues next week with both, a halfpipe and slopestyle competition slated to take place in Mammoth Mountain (USA) from February 1 to 4, 2017.