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2019/20 Big Air World Cup set for epic finale in Atlanta
Judd Henkes (USA) at Thursday's training in Atlanta © US Ski & Snowboard

Fresh on the heels of one of the most incredible big air competitions of all time and straight into one of the most hotly-anticipated events of the season, we leave Beijing behind and roll on to the FIS Snowboard World Cup Visa Big Air Atlanta this week for the fourth and final big air World Cup competition of the year.

Action is going down all day on Friday at Sun Trust Park, home of Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves, where the 40,000 seat stadium will host qualifications beginning at 9:55 for the men, followed by the women at 14:00, and finals under the stadium lights at 19:00.

It’s hard to believe, but with the cancellation of the scheduled January Dusseldorf big air World Cup before the season even got underway, the Atlanta competition marks the final FIS Snowboard big air World Cup of the 2019/20 season, and the second-ever stadium competition on US soil should give what has been a brief, but hugely entertaining big air World Cup season the amazing close it deserves.

Iwabuchi should have second-straight globe on lock

Over on the women’s side the race for the 2019/20 big air crystal globe is pretty close to being settled even before competition starts, as last year’s globe winner Reira Iwabuchi (JPN) sits atop the rankings with 1900 points. The just-turned-18-year-old comes into Atlanta fresh off a fourth-place performance at an extremely heavy women’s competition in Beijing.

While mathematically Iwabuchi could still be caught by a few other riders who are on hand in Atlanta, including her teammate (and Beijing winner) Miyabi Onitsuka, and Katie Ormerod (GBR), it would take an extremely sub-par performance from Iwabuchi to give those riders that opportunity, as she hasn’t finished below sixth in a big air World Cup in almost three years.

Aside from the above-mentioned riders, look to the USA’s own two-time slopestyle Olympic gold medallist and PyeongChang 2018 Olympic big air silver medallist Jamie Anderson, PyeongChang 2018 big air bronze medallist and this season’s Cardrona winner Enni Rukijarvi (FIN), 15-year-old Kokomo Murase (JPN), who was the top qualifier in Beijing last weekend, and Julia Marino and Hailey Langland, both of the USA, to be in contention on Friday.

20-year-old Corning looking to take home seventh globe of his career

In the men’s competition it’s up to a rider from the host US squad to close the season strong on home soil, as 20-year-old Chris Corning looks to lock up his second career big air crystal globe - and already the seventh total globe of his career - this weekend. 

Corning made history last weekend by landing the first-ever quad corked jump at a city big air event when he stomped a quad 1800 melon on his second jump in the finals. While that trick earned him a competition-high score of 97.50, his two-jump combined score on the evening was only good enough for third place - which gives you a sense of just how high the level of riding was in Beijing last Saturday.

Corning has 2200 points to put him atop the big air rankings, with really only Canada’s Nic Lamframboise and his 1500 points in a position to surpass the US rider. While 19-year-old Laframboise was hugely impressive in his first career World Cup win in Modena back in November, he’ll be hard-pressed to catch Corning on Friday, as Corning has hit the podium in seven of his last eight big air competitions and will be unlikely to falter badly enough to let Laframboise steal the title.

While the Beijing winner Max Parrot (CAN) and runner-up Sven Thorgren (SWE) won’t be competing in Atlanta this weekend, some heavy-hitters have stepped up to take their place, with the likes of Canada’s Mark McMorris, and Kyle Mack and Red Gerard of the USA tops amongst those names.

You could pretty much read the men’s start list from top to bottom and find something to get stoked about for every rider on there, but other names that jump out from the widely international field include Torgeir Bergrem (NOR), Ruki Tobita (JPN), Matty Cox (AUS), Darcy Sharpe (CAN), Judd Henkes (USA), Vlad Khadarin (RUS)…

Long story short, it should be one heck of a competition on Friday.

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