Kreischberg (AUT) - The first of three January slopestyle World Cup competitions went down in thrilling fashion in Kreischberg (AUT) on Saturday, where Japan’s Miyabi Onitsuka and Norway’s Mons Roisland both claimed victories with some final-run heroics.
Onitsuka came into Kreischberg wearing the yellow World Cup leader’s bib after taking the season-opening in Secret Garden (CHN) back in December, and on Saturday she was able to steal the show when it looked certain that local hero Anna Gasser would emerge triumphant on home soil.
Both Onitsuka and Gasser put down clean first runs to set the pace, with top-qualifier Gasser heading into the second of three finals laps with the absolute slimmest of leads allowed in the section-by-section scoring system - 82.36 points to Onitsuka’s 82.35 - before both ladies’ then had throwaway second runs; leading to a final run showdown from which Onitsuka would emerge victorious.
With a rail section highlighted by a half cab to 50-50 - backside 360 off on the flat bar, 720s both ways, and a cab 900 to finish things off, Onitsuka would earn a score of 85.33 with her final run to put the pressure on Gasser.
Gasser wouldn’t wither under the pressure, either, as she too put down her best run of the afternoon when she stomped her signature double underflip on the first jump on the first hit while also putting down 720s both ways on the other two jumps. However, with just a simple 50-50 on the bottom canon rail, Gasser likely lost the .23 points needed to catch Onitsuka and finished with a score of 85.10.
“I’m very happy to win here in Kreischberg again,” smiled Onitsuka, who, in a case of history repeating itself, also topped Gasser at the Austrian venue to take gold at the Kreischberg 2015 world championships, “Anna is so good, and this is her home, so it was very difficult today, but I was able to put down a good run.”
Third place on the day went to Silje Norendal (NOR), who stomped a gutsy final run after falling in both of her first two, capping things off with a perfect frontside 720 melon on the final jump for a score of 67.81.
With her second-straight win, Onitsuka extends her lead on the slopestyle and the park & pipe overall standings on her teammate Reira Iwabuchi, with 2000 points to Iwabuchi’s 1250 in slopestyle, and with 4400 to Iwabuchi’s 3650 overall.
Roisland feels the pressure but comes up big
Over in the men’s competition, Mons Roisland and Chris Corning continued the trend started by the ladies of showstopping final runs, both stomping their last attempts to jump into first and second place, respectively, bumping Japan’s Hiroake Kunitake down to third - and bumping two of his teammates off the podium completely.
Roisland started off his final run with perhaps the most technical rail section of anyone in the competition, including a perfect boardslide corked 630 out on the up rail, before going on to stomp a back double 1080, a frontside 1440 and a switch backside 1260 through the jumps to earn himself a score of 88.75 and top spot - though still with some heavy hitters still left to drop in.
Second overall qualifier Corning came down a few riders later and put down what may have been the gnarliest jump line of the competition, with back-to-back 1440s (including a triple-corked backside 14) and cab 1260 tail to finish it off. However, with bit of a hand drag in the middle and a somewhat tamer rail section than Roisland, Corning would have to settle for a score of 84.75 and second place.
“I really wish I had just stomped my first run, because I hate standing up there knowing I’ve got to do my best on my last one,” Roisland laughed from the finish, “My rail section was super technical and I had already stomped it in both of my first two runs, so I was kinda worried I wouldn’t be able to do it three in a row, but I guess I did. I’m just super pumped to have put it all together on the last run there.”
Corning, meanwhile, was happy with second place on a day of tough competition.
“My first run was just squirrelly, all over the place,” said Corning, as he described his outing, “Second run I misjudged the second jump and came up short and took a bit of a digger. But I was ok and was able to get back up for third run, put it down, and I’m stoked to get up on the podium in second place.”
After top qualifier Takeru Onitsuka (JPN) couldn’t put his best stuff together with the final run of the day, third place would go to Kunitake, giving the 16-year-old his second career podium.
Though he would finish in fourth place, Otsuka would maintain a strong hold on the World Cup big air, slopestlye, and overall standings, with 4100 overall points to Corning’s 2890.
Following awards at Kreischberg it was straight off the slopes and onto the road for the whole crew, as the FIS Snowboard slopestyle World Cup tour moves over to Switzerland for the legendary Laax Open, where slopestyle and halfpipe action is slated to go down from January 15-19.
- Onitsuka - front board 270 pretzel out, half cab - 50-50 - backside 360 out, frontside 720 melon, backside 720, frontside 180 - 50-50 - switch backside 360, cab 360, cab 900 stalefish
- Gasser - cab 270 boardslide to fakie, switch boardslide 270 out, cab double underflip 900, frontside 720 melon, 50-50, backside 360, backside 720 melon
- Norendal - switch frontside boardslide to regular, backside 180 bonk, cab 900 melon, backside 720 melon, boardslide to fakie, cab 540 mute, frontside 720
- Roisland - frontside 180 - 50-50 - 270 switch-up - 270 out, boardslide cork 630 out, backside double cork 1080 mute, frontside 1440 indy, front boardslide 270 out, frontside 540 shifty, switch backside 1260 mute
- Corning - gap backside 270 on 270 out, boardslide 450 out, frontside 1440 melon, backside triple cork 1440 melon, boardslide 270 out, backside rodeo 540, cab 1260 tail
- Kunitake - cab 270 frontside boardslide - switch-up - 270 out, switch boardslide underflip 450 out, backside 1260 melon, cab double cork 1260 mute to tail, frontside boardslide 450 out, cab 540, frontside 1080 mute