The 2020 Laax Open FIS Snowboard World Cup is going down this week in a big way, with a full slate of slopestyle and halfpipe action going down from January 13-18, beginning with men’s slopestyle qualifications on Monday, women’s slopestyle qualifications on Tuesday, slopestye semifinals on Wednesday, halfpipe semifinals on Thursday, slopestyle finals on Friday, and halfpipe finals under the lights on Saturday evening.
Like we said, it’s going down in a big way.
The course here in Laax features six sections, with two jib/butter/knuckle sections up top leading into four jump sections, and with three of the four jump sections providing multiple take-off options for the riders.
It’s truly one of the most exciting slopestyle courses we’ve ever seen on the World Cup circuit, which makes all the days of action going down here at the Laax Open so much sweeter, as we get to enjoy what the world’s best snowboarders have to offer on the world’s best course.
Big, technical course will challenge world’s slopestyle best
One of the longest-running snowboard competitions in the world, and perhaps the most well-respected, the Laax Open consistently attracts the world’s very best riders year in and year out, and this season is no exception. As this year’s Laax Open will be the first slopestyle World Cup competition of the 2019/20 season, the riders on hand will be looking to get the season started with a bang. With an all-star cast on the entry lists for the men’s and ladies’ competitions in both slopestyle and halfpipe there’s no doubt that that’s just what we’ve got to look forward to this week.
While last season's winner Silje Norendal (NOR) is unfortunately not riding in this year's competition,the other two memebers of last year’s Laax Open women’s podium will be on hand for this season’s competition, and Swiss riders Celia Petrig and Sina Candrian - second and third last season, respectively - looking for a little more magic on home soil this year.
Slopestyle second-overall finisher in 2018/19 Reira Iwabuchi (JPN) will looking for the first slopestyle World Cup win of her career, though riders like PyeongChang 2018 slopestyle silver medallist Laurie Blouin and her Canadian teammate Brooke Voigt, Julia Marino and Hailey Langland of the USA, Sarka Pancochova (CZE) and Katie Ormerod (GBR) are all likely to have something to say about that come finals time.
Others to watchout for on the ladies' side include the veteran Cheryl Maas of the Netherlands, Slovakia's Klaudia Medlova, and young Annika Morgan of Germany.
Top 24 men already set for Wednesday’s semifinals
For the men, qualifications went down on Monday, and with the top 24 riders (12 from each of the two quali heats) decided at this early point in the proceedings we’ve already got a clearer picture of what to expect come finals time.
For the second-straight season it was the inimitable Sven Thorgren (SWE) putting down the top score of any rider in Laax qualifications, and there’s perhaps no rider better suited to the big, multifaceted Laax course than the 25-year-old Swede. Last season Thorgren was forced to pull out of finals after crashing in training, so expect him to be extra motivated this year.
While last year’s Laax winner Chris Corning was unable to advance from Monday’s qualifications, second and third-place finishers Staale Sandbech (NOR) and Moritz Thoenen (SUI) will be participating in Wednesday’s semis, where they’ll be joined by a long list of heavyweights.
One of the most exciting names on the list is Sebastian Toutant (CAN), who will be dropping in on his first slopestyle World Cup competition in nearly 2.5 years. The gold medallist from Olympic big air competition at the PyeongChang 2018 Games, Toutant is a thrill to watch every time he straps in.
Dusty Henrickson (USA) finished just ahead of Toutant to take top spot in heat one of Monday’s qualifications, and will be joined by a long list of US teammates in the semis - including Judd Henkes, Ryan Stassel, Luke Winkelmann, Sean Fitzsimons, PyeongChang big air silver medallist Kyle Mack and PyeongChang 2018 slopestyle gold medallist Red Gerard.
Along with Sandbech, Norway will be well-represented by the likes of Mons Roisland and Fridtjof “Fridge” Tischendorf, Canada will see Frank Jobin and Mikey Ciccarelli join Toutant, Nicolas Huber and Jonas Bosiger will rep the host Swiss alongside Thoenen, while riders from Tiarn Collins of New Zealand to Niek van der Velden of the Netherlands will make the field for Wednesday’s semifinals at the Laax Open FIS Snowboard Slopestyle World Cup truly globe-spanning.
Stay tuned to our social media channels for updates throughout the week from Laax.