The final of day of action at the southern snowsports extravaganza known as the Visa Big Air presented by Land Rover FIS Freeski World Cup Atlanta saw qualifications and finals go down on the monster jump that took over the baseball diamond at Sun Trust Park, where Mathilde Gremaud (SUI) and Alex Hall (USA) took hugely impressive victories.
Home of Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves, Sun Trust Park was transformed this week into a big air mecca, with the massive scaffold jump set-up running from the centre field wall all the way to the backstop, giving the world’s best riders a stunning backdrop to show the good folks of Georgia their stuff.
Gremaud back with a vengeance after sitting out Beijing
After sitting out finals in Beijing last weekend because of a crash in training, Gremaud showed no signs of ill-effects in Atlanta on Saturday, as the 19-year-old powered her way through qualifications in top spot before stomping an insane left double cork 1260 safety on her first hit and right side rodeo 900 lead tail on her final run to earn a two-jump score of 180.75 and her second victory in as many starts in 2019/20.
“I wasn’t doing well in Beijing,” said Gremaud after her win, “I’m happy I skipped it so I could give my all today. It’s great to be out here pushing limits. It makes me so happy. It’s so fun.”
Second place went to Gremaud’s teammate Giulia Tanno, as the 21-year-old earned her third-straight big air runner-up result so far in 2019/20 by putting down a left double cork 1080 safety and a switch left 1080 tail grab for a total score of 175.75. Tanno maintains her hold on the yellow big air leader’s bib with 240 points to Gremaud’s 200, while Johanne Killi (NOR) sits just back in third with 195 points.
Rounding out the podium in third place was Isabel Atkin of Great Britain, who put down a right cork 900 tail and a switch right 900 mute for a score of 164.50 and - somewhat surprisingly for the Utah 2019 world champs bronze medallist - the first World Cup big air podium of her career.
Signature style gives Hall the home soil edge
The men’s competition saw a truly staggering array of tricks going down on the Atlanta kicker, with all five of the top-5 finishers stomping two tricks that earned scores of 90 points or higher.
It was a level of riding that was befitting of such a special event, making it perhaps only right that it would be Alex Hall and his incomparable style walking away with the home-field victory. Hall would stomp perfectly his left double 1620 Buick (that’s a seatbelt grab combined with a cuban, for those scoring at home), before putting down the switch left double 1800 Buick that only he can do to clock the highest-scoring trick of the day with a 97.00 for his final jump.
“Maybe one of the biggest wins of my career, yeah,” a clearly stoked Hall said from the finish area, “Right before I dropped in the crowd was going crazy. That was sick. I didn’t feel any pressure because everyone killed it so hard and I was already hyped on my jumps from before. It was like, wherever I end up, I’m stoked. But it worked out for me. That was insane.”
Hall’s two-jump score of 187.50 bested runner-up Antoine Adelisse of France by just one point, as the 23-year-old Frenchman earned the second podium of his World Cup career with a right triple cork 1620 mute and a massively creative (and massively difficult) pre-grab switch triple cork 1440 nose grab for a score of 186.50.
Third place on the evening went to Canada’s Teal Harle, who earned his second-straight podium with a switch left double cork 1800 mute and an uber-stylish left double cork 1620 tweaked japan for a final score of 185.25, leaving all three podium athletes within an incredibly close 2.5 points of each other.
Finishing just off the podium was Birk Ruud, whose fourth-place finish would be enough for him to maintain his lead on the big air World Cup standings with 230 points, ahead of Hall’s 200 and Harle’s 185.
After the holiday break the men and women of FIS Freeski will be back in action for the first slopestyle competition of the season at Font Romeu (FRA), where competition will go down from January 9-11, 2020.