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Silvaplana set to welcome snowboarders for first time at slopestyle World Cup finals
Nicola Liviero (ITA) © Filip Zaun

The snowboard world is in for a treat this weekend with another heavy roster of the world’s best slated to drop in for slopestyle competition action one more time in 2020/21, as the World Cup finals set to take to the always-immaculate Corvatsch course for the Silvaplana World Cup from the 26th to 28th of March. Women’s qualifications are slated to go down on the 26th, while men’s qualifications and finals are scheduled for the 28th, with finals beginning at 13:00 CET.

A long-running fixture on the FIS Freeski World Cup circuit, Silvaplana has proven itself time again over the past decade to be one of the best slopestyle venues in the world, and now this weekend the snowboarders will finally get to experience that, as well. With the course primed, the stunning backdrop of the Engadin region surrounding the venue, and a mostly stable weather forecast through the weekend, we’re looking forward to finishing off the season on the high and handing out crystal globes for the top slopestyle riders of the year, as well as for Park & Pipe overall honours, and the Snowboard Nations Cup for the top country across all the FIS Snowboard events by the competition’s end.

Though there hasn’t been any international snowboard contests at the resort to speak of in the past, most riders will know a little bit about what to expect from Corvatsch from the annual Progression Days sessions held in the autumn.

The World Cup course in Corvatsch is always changing from year to year, and this season’s event is no exception, as it begins with a quick rail section, followed by a big, straight-up quarterpipe on the riders’ left side, followed by another rail section, then three huge kickers, and finally one more rail to finish things off at the bottom.

Despite the late date in the season and the heavy schedule we just wrapped up in Aspen at the hugely successful (and hugely entertaining) World Championships and World Cup competitions, the women’s and men’s startlists Silvaplana are long and overflowing with most of the biggest names in the sport.

Gasser in the hunt for career’s fourth and fifth crystal globes

At the top of the lists you can find last weekend’s Aspen slopestyle World Cup winner Anna Gasser (AUT) and Aspen 2021 slopestyle World Champion Marcus Kleveland (NOR), with Gasser leading the women’s Park & Pipe overall standings and Kleveland sitting in second behind only halfpipe rider Yuto Totsuka (JPN) on the men’s side. With the halfpipe season over, Kleveland would need a result of only 12th or better to surpass the Japanese rider.

Needless to say, Gasser and Kleveland also lead the slopestyle World Cup rankings, and while each just needs a decent result in Silvaplana to lock up their awards for the season, they’ll both be looking over their shoulders at a few choice riders who could swoop in at the last minute.

With the likes of Zoi Sadowski-Synnott (NZL), Jamie Anderson (USA), Laurie Blouin (CAN) and Hailey Langland (USA) not competing in Silvaplana, Gasser’s top concerns will be Kokomo Murase (JPN) and Tess Coady this weekend, with both those riders within striking distance of the Austrian.

Sixteen year-old Murase finished in second place at the season-opening Kreischberg (AUT) big air competition, and has finished seventh or better at every competition since then - including a fourth-place finish at the Aspen slopestyle where she was also the top qualifier. Murase has some of the gnarliest tricks in the world on the women’s side of things, and could very well grab her first World Cup win if she can put it all together this weekend.

Coady, meanwhile, has been one of the most consistent riders all season, and will be looking to keep the ball rolling in the best season of her career so far. The 20 year-old comes in Silvaplana with a third place from the Laax Open slopestyle World Cup and an Aspen 2021 slopestyle bronze medal to her name, and has the potential to take her second career World Cup win on Sunday.

Other notables on the women’s side include last season’s slopestyle crystal globe winner Katie Ormerod (GBR), Miyabi Onituska and Reira Iwabuchi of Japan, Cool Wakishima (NZL), Annika Morgan (GER), Klaudia Medlova (SVK), and Brooke Voigt (CAN).

Kleveland running four-straight podium streak heading into Silvaplana

After starting the season with so few FIS points that he was on the startlist as an alternate for the Kreischberg big air, Marcus Kleveland has since caught fire, earning third place at the Laax Open slopestyle, X Games big air gold, slopestyle gold and big air bronze at Aspen 2021, and then finishing off his latest two week stint in Aspen with another slopestyle win in the World Cup competition there.

Kleveland is the hottest rider in snowboard and, as mentioned above, the 21 year-old now sits atop atop the slopestyle World Cup rankings and second in the Park & Pipe overall standings with 160 points, and he has a very real chance of capturing both globes this weekend.

There are, however, a handful of riders on hand in Silvaplana who could make that feat difficult for him.

Canada’s Max Parrot stands atop that list, as the 26 year-old is just 10 points back of Kleveland - and would likely be atop the World Cup points list had he not been forced to drop out of the Laax Open due to covid-19 protocol concerns. With a win at the Kreischberg big air World Cup, Aspen 2021 big air world champs silver, and a fourth-place at last weekend’s Aspen slopestyle World Cup, Parrot will be hard for anybody to beat if he can put one down clean on Sunday.

Laax Open winner Niklas Mattsson of Sweden is another 10 points back of Parrot, and while he was feeling the effects of a nagging injury and didn’t competing in the World Championships slopestyle competition, he was back in the bib for the World Cup there in Aspen, although he did finish a disappointing 39th.

Other riders on hand in Silvaplana with a shot of catching Kleveland include Sven Thorgren (SWE), Hiraoki Kunitake (JPN), Rene Rinnekangas (FIN) and Leon Vockensperger (GER), although the further you get down that list the lower the points and the less the chances.

The globes are just one part of the story here in Silvaplana though, as there’s a whole slew of riders with no chance at the titles who most definitely have a chance of taking the win on Sunday.

The US team is coming in heavy with Dusty Henricksen, Judd Henkes, Chris Corning, Brock Crouch, Luke Winkelmann and Lyon Farrell all making the trip across the pond, while Japan’s Kunitake will be joined by his teammates Ruki Tobita, Kaito Hamada, and Takeru Otsuka, and Canada will see Sebastien Toutant and Liam Brearley joining Parrot.

Although Mark McMorris is also on the startlist for Canada, it seems a longshot that he’ll make it to Switzerland from Alaska, where he’s slated to drop in on the last stop of the Natural Selection tour.

Finally, watch out for the host Swiss team, with Nicolas Huber, Moritz’s Boll and Thonen, and Jonas Boesiger all looking to finish the season off strong on home soil.

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