On a day in which we saw perhaps the best-ever competition conditions at an occasionally fickle Mammoth Mountain, the Swiss duo of Sarah Hoefflin and Andri Ragettli came through under the warm California sun with big wins at the FIS Freeski Slopestyle World Cup Mammoth Mountain Land Rover US Grand Prix, in what was perhaps the most thoroughly entertaining competition of the 2019/20 season.
Hoefflin steps her game up for third career win
Hoefflin came into competition fresh off a two-medal performance at the X Games in Aspen, and while she struggled somewhat through training and qualifications - where she finished sixth of the eight riders through to finals - come time for Fridays finals she was dialed in and ready to push the envelope.
Already one of the world’s best rail riders, Hoefflin upped the ante on Friday, putting down what she herself described as the best rail line of her life - a statement about which the judges seemed to agree.
Starting out with a switch lipslide continuing 270 out, Hoefflin then dropped one of the best tricks of the day anywhere on the course with her left 450 gap to down rail, coming out switch, before finishing things off with a switch rightside slide pretzel 270 out.
Through the jumps Hoefflin then stomped a right 540 mute, a switch left 720 safety, and a switch right 720 safety to finish things off, earning herself a score of 87.18 and the third World Cup win of her career.
“It’s so cool,” Hoefflin smiled from the finish area, “I can’t even tell you how happy I am about this. The weather was beautiful today, after it wasn’t so good during training, and it was just a wonderful, perfect day for me.
“And for Andri (Ragettli) to win today too, it’s the coolest thing ever. I’m so proud of Andri, he’s such a talented skier. I think we’re going to party tonight.”
Second place with a score 83.53 was to Isabel Atkin (GBR), whose first run of the two-run final included a switch right slide continuing 450 out on the canon rail, a right-side flat 540 japan on the tricky wing jump, and a beautiful switch right 900 mute to finish things off.
Rounding out the podium in third with a score of 81.38 was Maggie Voisin of the host US squad, who made her return to the World Cup after surgery last spring with an impressive second run, and her final-hit left rodeo 900 japan putting an exclamation point on a hugely successful return to World Cup action.
Ragettli comes through with stellar second run to bump Stevenson
Over on the men’s side of things it was Ragettli simply doing what he’s done better than anyone in FIS Freeski slopestyle history, setting a new benchmark for the men with his fifth career slopestyle victory and the 18th World Cup podium of his career.
Ragettli started things out on the rails with a switch left 450 on to forward, followed by a left 450 gap on 270 off, and then right 270 on switch up 270 off on the rainbow rail.
Through the jumps Ragettli really turned up the gas, with a right double cork 1260 double japan on the wing jump, a switch left double misty 1260 double mute on the first tabletop, and a left double 1620 tail to finish things off on the final kicker, ending up with a 90.28 for the win.
“Before I dropped in I knew Colby (Stevenson) was just 0.6 points in front of me,” Ragettli said, breaking down his thought process before his final run, “I knew I could do me run better. I was a little short on the last jump on my first run, so I went a little bit bigger, grabber that 1620 better, improved my score and landed in first place. It’s great day for the Swiss team. I always seem to be be on the podium if Sarah (Hoefflin) is on the podium, so if Sarah was on the podium today I knew I had to be there, too!”
Second place with a score 88.86 went to the USA’s Colby Stevenson, who lead for much of the competition after a stellar first run that included a stylish left nosebutter 450 on pretzel 270 out on the first rail and a unique 50-50 to 540 off on the canon rail, with a show-stopping left double 1440 cuban on his final hit.
Rounding out the podium in third was 18-year-old Deven Fagan, who claimed his first career World Cup podium at the same venue his twin brother Kiernan finished in third place the previous season, with Deven stomping a right double 1260 mute and a switch left double 1440 tail grab through the tabletops to give the host US team three podiums on the day.
Action at Mammoth continues with halfpipe competition on Saturday, with the forecasted warm, spring-like weather sure to bring a positive vibe to the final day of action in California.