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2020/21 FIS Snowboard big air and slopestyle season preview
Red Gerard (USA) in Laax (SUI) © Ruggli/Laax Open

A slightly abbreviated FIS Snowboard Park & Pipe World Cup season will get underway on 9 January, 2021 with big air action taking to the 2015 world championships venue in Kreischberg (AUT). After the cancellation of the Beijing big air slated for late November and the Copper Mountain big air that was scheduled for 19 December, Kreischberg will be the first of three big air World Cups that remain on the calendar this season, with both other competitions scheduled to take place in Calgary (CAN) in March. 

Over on the slopestyle side of things, there are currently four competitions set to go down from January to the end of March, beginning at the legendary Laax Open from 20th-22nd January, 2021. After that it’s over to North America for what should be a big block of competition in Calgary through late February and early March, with the dates still to be confirmed as details are ironed out with the Alberta government and other authorities.

As it stands now, the slopestyle World Cup is slated to finish off in Spindleruv Mlyn (CZE) from March 25-27. However, we remain hopeful that we'll also be able to reschedule the postponed Mammoth Mountain (USA) slopestyle and halfpipe competitions to sometime in early April, so stay tuned for more info on that.

As with all FIS events this season, stringent covid-19 testing and safety protocols will be in place at all events, and you can find more information on our efforts to safely and successful carry out the 2020/21 FIS Snowboard World Cup season HERE.

Full FIS Snowboard Park & Pipe calendar

BIG AIR - Takeaways from 2019/20

Reira Iwabuchi (JPN) doesn’t need to be big to go big, as the 18 year-old scored her second straight big air crystal globe with another season of consistently massive tricks despite the fact she’s one of the smallest riders on the World Cup. Brooke Voigt (CAN) was like a fine wine, having her best World Cup season in her 10th on tour, finishing second overall in big air and third in slopestyle. Miyabi Onitsuka (JPN) was a warrior, winning the Beijing Air + Style after taking half a dozen hard slams in practice, and finishing in the big air top-3 for the third straight season.

Chris Corning was once again a big air beast, winning his second big air crystal globe in the last three seasons (he also finished second in 2018/19), and the seventh crystal globe of his career to sit behind only Cai Xuetong (CHN) on the all-time Park & Pipe list. Nic Laframboise (CAN) is a big air beast in the making, scoring three top-5s in three events, including a win over the likes of Corning and Mark McMorris (CAN) in Modena (ITA). Ryoma Kimata was the unofficial “Rookie of the Year” after earning three top-5’s and his first ever World Cup podium in three events in his first season on tour.

What to watch out for in 2020/21

It’s an Olympic qualification season, which means there’s more on the line than just World Cup points here. Expect the world’s heavyweights to be more committed and hungrier than ever to make it count in the few competitions we’ll be able to put in the books this season.

However, with that being said, there always seems to be some under-the-radar riders who pop up in these situations and make life difficult for the more established names, and it’s always exciting to see somebody rolling into a competition with no expectations and walking away with their ticket punched to the next Olympic Winter Games.

SLOPESTYLE - Takeaways from 2019/20

Katie Ormerod (GBR) was the Comeback Kid last season, and made a little bit of history in the process, scoring podiums in all four slopestyle competitions and earning the first-ever FIS Snowboard crystal globe for a rider from Great Britain - all after missing most of two years of competition due to injury. Laurie Blouin (CAN) was one of the most casually impressive riders to drop in on any competition all season, never finishing lower than sixth in any slope or big air event and finally scoring her first World Cup win at the season finale in Calgary. Brooke Voigt…well, see above.

Ruki Tobita (JPN) was one of the most entertaining snowboarders to watch in the world last season, bringing a level of stoke and fearlessness to every run and earning the slopestyle crystal globe in just his second season of World Cup competition. Tiarn Collins (NZL) was runner-up in the Comeback Kid category, earning his first career World Cup win and finishing second overall after missing almost all of the 2018/19 season due to injury. Dusty Hendrickson is quite possibly the Next Great One in snowboarding, finishing third overall in the World Cup rankings, stomping the first-ever slopestyle quad cork at the Burton US Open, and generally blowing minds left, right, and centre.

What to watch out for in 2020/21

The same applies here as for big air, but maybe we’ll mention some names to keep an eye on that we didn’t mention above. These riders are very likely to in the conversation for both big air and slopestyle this season…

Anna Gasser (AUT) only dropped in on one World Cup competition last season, the Air + Style Beijing big air, but in any event she enters this season she should be considered the odds-on favourite.

Zoi Sadowski-Synnott (NZL) didn’t enter any World Cup competitions last season, but in any event she enters she may actually be the odds-on favourite over Anna.

Jamie Anderson (USA) is gearing up to take a run at an Olympic slopestyle gold three-peat in Beijing 2022 and we can’t wait to see how she builds up to that over the coming months.

Along with Reira Iwabuchi and Miyabi Onitsuka, 16 year-old Kokomo Murase (JPN) will give Japan a 1-2-3 punch the likes of which few other nations can even dream of putting on the start list.

Speaking of Japan, Takeru Otsuka (JPN) is set to return to competition this season after missing all of last year due to a knee injury. The idea of watching Takeru and Dusty Hendrickson go head-to-head in competition this season is a prospect that should get your snowboard-loving mouth watering.

Speaking of 1-2-3 punches, imagine if Canada’s Mark McMorris, Max Parrot and Sebastian Toutant all dropped in on the same competition for once…

Sven Thorgren (SWE) might have quietly become the best snowboarder in the world in the past year or so.

Having said that, Dusty Hendrickson might have also become the best snowboarder in the world in the past year or so.

Final thought: whatever happens this season, we can’t wait to see it when it does.

 
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