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FIS Snowboard 2019/20 Season Preview: Big Air
Reira Iwabuchi (JPN) in Cardrona (NZL) © Buchholz/FIS Snowboard

While this doesn’t really technically qualify as a “preview,” per se, what with the 2019 FIS Snowboard big air World Cup already underway after a hugely entertaining season-opener in Cardrona (NZL) back in August, what this piece does qualify as is a look ahead at the rest of the this season’s big air World Cup action.

With Cardrona already in the books, and the Dusseldorf (GER) competition that was initially slated for early January cancelled due to an unforeseen scheduling conflict at the venue, there are now just three big air competitions left in the season - Modena (ITA) on November 2, Beijing (CHN) on December 14, and Atlanta (USA) on December 20. 

So that means lots of action between now and the holiday break, and here we’ll give you a little primer on what to look forward to in the coming weeks…

Venues:

Modena (ITA), Nov 2 — Part of the ModenaFiere Skipass snow sports and tourism festival, Modena made its debut as a World Cup host in 2018/19 and quickly established itself as a season highlight. With huge crowds, a perfect jump, and a premier location in one of Italy’s great cities, the Modena competition carries on the strong tradition of Italian city events that began way back in 2006 in Milano. All the ingredients are in place to make the Modena the perfect jumping-off point for the 2019/20 season in the northern hemisphere.

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Beijing (CHN), Dec 14 - This season marks the third in a row that FIS Snowboard will work in conjunction with one of the longest running and most respected names in snowboard competition history, as we once again partner with Air+Style for the Beijing big air World Cup. This season is an exceptionally exciting one for the Beijing event, as we move venues to the permanent big air jump just completed in west Beijing at the Shougang Industrial Park - a venue that is set to be the site of big air competition at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games. Don’t miss this one.

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Atlanta (USA), Dec 20 - Back in 2015/16 FIS Snowboard along with the US Ski & Snowboard Association made a statement by bringing big air World Cup action to Boston’s world-famous Fenway Park for what was one of the season’s marquee events. This year we’ve once again got the snowsports world buzzing for a US competition, as the FIS Snowboard and Freeski Atlanta Visa big air World Cup is set to take over SunTrust Park in December. There, a massive, 50 metre tall big air jump set to take over the outfield at the home of Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves, where the world’s very best will be on hand and pushing their limits. The Atlanta competition is set to close out the 2019 FIS Snowboard big air World Cup season in epic fashion.

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Three riders to watch - women:

Anna Gasser (AUT) - Perhaps no rider on earth has pushed women’s snowboarding forward as much as Anna Gasser has in the past half-decade. Gasser became the first woman ever to land a triple cork last November, and has consistently being throwing a variety of double corks in competition for several seasons now. With eight World Cup victories, two big air World Cup crystal globes, three X Games golds, Sierra Nevada 2017 world champs big air gold, and PyeongChang 2018 Olympic big air gold, there’s really nothing Gasser hasn’t won at this point. And as long as the 28-year-old continues to push boundaries every time she straps in, all that winning seems destined to continue. 

Reira Iwabuchi (JPN) and Miyabi Onitsuka (JPN) - We’re not trying to take anything away from either of Japan’s top two women by grouping them together here, but the frequency with which 17-year-old Iwabuchi and 21-year-old Onitsuka stand on the podium together is uncanny. Last season saw the pair finished tied atop the final big air World Cup rankings, and with a nearly identical - and identically impressive - bag of tricks, either of these two is capable of a victory at any competition this season. 

Zoi Sadowski-Synnott (NZL) - Still just 18 years old, Zoi Sadowski-Synnott has been on an absolute tear over the past few seasons, becoming the first New Zealander in 26 years to win Olympic Winter Games medal with a big air bronze at PyeongChang 2018, before a truly incredible 2018/19 season that saw her claim slopestyle gold at the Utah 2019 world championships, slopestyle gold at the 2019 X Games in Aspen, and then finish off the season win at the Burton US Open last spring. 

Not to be overlooked: Julia Marino (USA), Jamie Anderson (USA), Silje Norendal (NOR) Klaudia Medlova (SVK), Laurie Blouin (CAN), Katie Ormerod (GBR), Sina Candrian (SUI) 

Three riders to watch - men:

Chris Corning (USA) - With three slopestyle and two big air crystal globes to his credit since he first stepped on the scene in 2014/15, as well as the Utah 2019 world champs slopestyle gold medal, 20-year-old Chris Corning stands tall as the World Cup’s top gun. Corning has six victories in his last 12 World Cup starts, including at the 2019/20 season-opener in Cardrona where he once again stomped his signature quad cork 1800 - a trick which he is still the only rider in World Cup history to land in competition. Last season Corning also very nearly became the first rider ever to land the quad on a scaffold jump, and you can bet he’ll be looking to give it a try once again this winter. 

Sven Thorgren (SWE) - One of the world’s most talented snowboarders in any arena, Thorgren made a triumphant return to competition last season with a victory at the Beijing Air+Style after missing the better part of a year due to shoulder injury. With a silver at X Games Norway in August starting his season off strong (his fourth career X Games medal), Thorgren comes into the World Cup season riding high and looking to add to his total of three career World Cup podiums.

Max Parrot (CAN) - In one of the most inspiring snowboarding stories you’re likely to ever see, Max Parrot returned to competition at X Games Norway after missing nearly all of last season as he underwent treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, winning his sixth X Games gold medal in the process. With six career World Cup victories, a silver from the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic slopestyle, the 2015/16 big air crystal globe, and one of the deepest bags of tricks on earth, Parrot is a rider like no other.

Not to be overlooked - Mark McMorris (CAN), Staale Sandbech (NOR), Matty Cox (AUS), Clemens Millauer (AUT), Takeru Otsuka (JPN, injured), Hiroake Kunitake (JPN), Red Gerard (USA)

Livestream:

While the announcement of the Atlanta competition certainly made some waves, in the longer term perhaps the biggest news of the season for fans of FIS Snowboard, Freestyle, and Freeski action was the announcement that ALL World Cup events will be live streamed on the FIS Snowboard or FIS Freestyle YouTube channels this season.

Available for free viewing in all nations where a national broadcaster does not hold exclusive rights to the event, the new live streaming agreement with broadcast rights holder InFront Sports and Media is an important and exciting one for our sports moving forward, and we look forward to growing engagement and viewership over the season as awareness spreads.

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