Mammoth Mountain (USA) - A challenging week of delays and cancellations, wind storms and blizzards, and hopes and disappointments came to an uplifting ending on Saturday at Mammoth Mountain (USA), as an adversity-plagued slopestyle World Cup season finale saw the USA’s own Red Gerard walk away with the win in a hugely entertaining final contest of the season.
A long series of weather and scheduling-related problems led to the immensely difficult decision to cancel the ladies’ portion of the Mammoth slopestyle competition, putting an abrupt and unfortunate end to the season for the ladies’ side of the World Cup tour. Japan’s Miyabi Onitsuka would be honoured with the ladies’ slopestyle World Cup crystal globe for her performance on the season, with her teammate Reira Iwabuchi taking the season’s silver medal, and Isabel Derungs of Switzerland rounding out the overall podium in third.
When the weather once again nullified Friday’s Mammoth programme and the morning’s scheduled men’s finals, it looked like there might not be action for any of the slopestyle riders in California as time ran out on the weekend.
However, Saturday dawned bright and calm, and the huge amount of work put in by the local organizers, course workers, and volunteers paid off in spades with a fitting men’s slopestyle season-ender.
Coming off his gold medal victory at the PyeongChang 2019 Olympic Winter Games, Gerard had yet to participate in a World Cup slopestyle competition this season, but when he finally did he certainly made it count.
Fresh off a win at the Burton Open and riding with the sort of trademark casual precision that helped earn him slopestyle gold in Korea, Gerard’s earned a score of 85.10 for a second run that saw him start things off with a gap backside 360 to 50-50, into a boardslide 270 nose grab off, a frontside double cork 900 on the quarterpipe/tabletop hybrid kicker, a half cab 50-50 to backside 360 off into frontside 540 nose grab, and then a switch backside 1260 mute and a backside triple cork 1440 mute on the final two kickers.
“We’ve had some pretty bad weather here in Mammoth so I’m just really psyched we got the contest done and people got to ride and they didn’t have to cancel the finals,” said Gerard from the finish area, “It was awesome for me. The last couple weeks have been insane and I couldn’t ask for any better. I’m psyched up for sure. It’s been fun."
Second-place on the day went to Judd Henkes, as the freewheeling 17-year-old who was the competition’s top qualifier earned his first World Cup podium by landing the final run of the day with authority. With a super high-speed switch boardslide 450 off highlighting his rail section and a backside triple cork 1440 mute stomped at the bottom of the transition of the final jump putting an exclamation point on the competition, Henkes fell just sort of Gerard with a score of 83.95.
Third place went to Japan’s Ruki Tobita, whose first run of the competition included a frontside 270 boardslide 450 out and a switch backside 1260 on the second-to-last kicker to earn him a score of 80.50 and the first World Cup podium of his career.
Though he wasn’t able to put down his very best run of the day, the USA’s Chris Corning’s fifth-place finish gave him a final point total of 2,250 - more than enough to ensure the 19-year-old of his second-straight slopestyle crystal globe and the third of his career, giving the 19-year-old sole possession of top spot on the all-time slopestyle World Cup titles list.
“It was definitely one of the goals today, to come here and walk away with the globe, so that’s pretty sweet,” said Corning after the awards ceremony, “These guys all rode really well today, the course was probably the best it’s been all week, so it was fun to ride today.”
Finishing second overall on the season was the day’s second-place finisher, as Judd Henkes jumped into silver-medal position with a final point total of 1,700. Meanwhile, completing the US sweep of the season’s top three spots was Lyon Farrell, who finished with a final point total of 1,627.