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Gasser and Su hoping for more Beijing big air glory

Dec 01, 2023·Snowboard Park & Pipe
Anna Gasser (AUT) © Buchholz/@fissnowboard

After a five week lay-off the FIS Snowboard Park & Pipe World Cup is finally back in action this week at one of the most highly-anticipated competitions of the 2023/24 season, as we return to the scene of some epic memories from the 2022 Olympic Winter Games for big air action in Beijing (CHN).

Not only is the Beijing site the world’s first and only permanent, purpose-built big air jump, it’s also one of the most iconic snowsports venues in the world, situated as it is amongst the cooling stacks and steel manufacturing structures of Beijing’s Shougang Park. The venue’s surroundings are almost as dramatic as the action set to go down on the jump, and there’s really nothing also like it anywhere in the world.

However, the big air jump is the jewel of Shougang, and an elite roster of the world’s finest snowboarders are on hand and ready to get busy this week, with two days of training leading up to qualifications on Friday and finals on Saturday night under the lights, where the top eight women and the top ten men will duke it out for the podium.

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Leading the way into Beijing competition for the women is Austria’s Anna Gasser, who returns to the site where she won a repeat Olympic big air gold medal with a gutsy performance at the Shougang Park venue some 21 months ago.

While at 32 years old she may be nearly double the age of some of her competitors, Gasser remains the benchmarks by which all other riders are measured on the women’s competition scene. While we doubt we’ll see her break out her pioneering triple cork at this early stage of the season, when we remember the unprecedented cab double cork 1260 that she dropped in Beijing 2022 finals to propel herself to victory, we’re not counting anything out this week.

Gasser’s going to face stiff competition from the Japanese squad here in Beijing, as the likes of Reira Iwabuchi, Miyabi Onitsuka and Mari Fukada are all on hand and well capable of taking top spot.

Iwabuchi took the win at the season opener in Chur with an impressive performance, and the 21-year-old bested Gasser at her own game when she became the first woman to land a triple cork in competition at X Games last year. The fact that Iwabuchi also (unsuccessfully) attempted the triple here in Beijing at the Games makes us think she might return to the trick this week to finish up the business she started almost two years ago.

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Then there’s Canada’s Laurie Blouin, who became the second woman to stomp a triple cork in competition when she put one down just moments after Iwabuchi at those same X Games. There’s no doubt the jump here is big enough for one of the women to become the first in FIS competition history to stomp a triple inverted rotation, the two questions will be: is it necessary, and/or will conditions allow for it?

Finally, keep an eye in Great Britain’s Mia Brookes, the 16-year-old who made history last season by becoming the youngest-ever FIS Snowboard World Champion when she dropped the first-ever flat spun 1440 in the middle of her gold medal-winning slopestyle run. Brookes is the best flat-spinner in the game right now, and with a third place finish at Chur to open the season has shown she’s got what it takes to run with the big air heavy-hitters, as well.


For the men there’s an outrageous amount of firepower set to drop in on the Beijing big jump, and perhaps none more powerful than China’s own reigning big air Olympic gold medal winner, Su Yiming.

The last time we saw Su with a FIS logo on his bib was there at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, where he stomped frontside and backside 1800s on his way to a historic gold medal win.

Following that win and the ensuing fame, Su largely stepped back from competition, dropping in only for X Games last season in Aspen but otherwise taking time away from competitive snowboarding to regroup following the Olympics.

China’s hero is now back on the scene and, from what we’ve seen so far in training, he’s better than ever, stomping a dizzying array of spins throughout the two days of training and essentially stating to the the rest of the field that the battle this weekend will be for second place.

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It’s not going to be a simple walk in Shougang Park for Su Yiming however, as once again we have to speak about a Japanese team that is without a doubt the deepest in the world.

Leading the way is reigning big air World Champion Taiga Hasegawa, perhaps the only man in the world boasting a heavier big air trick arsenal than Su Yiming. A few months ago Hasegawa became the first rider in history to stomp 1980s all four ways, and with the jump here in Beijing similar in many ways to the Cardrona kicker where he put those tricks down, it’s not inconceivable that Hasegawa shows off a pair of 19s in competition this week.

However, when Japan swept the podium at the season-opener in Chur, Hasegawa wasn’t even a part of the podium, with Hiroto Ogiwara leading the way and his teammates Kira Kimura and Takeru Otsuka finishing up in second and third, respectively. Throw Ryoma Kimata and Hiroaki Kunitake into the mix and you’ve got fully six Japanese riders more than capable of hitting the Beijing podium.

Moving away from the Asia contingent we need to talk about Valentino Guseli (AUS), the all-terrain weapon who claimed the big air and Park & Pipe overall crystal globes last season. Guseli’s knocking on the door of 19s himself these days, and few others are able to elevate their performances come competition time quite like the 18-year-old Australian.

Canada’s coming in with some swagger, with Nic Laframboise, Cameron Spalding and Liam Brearley all eating up the Beijing jump through training. Recent history-maker Ian Matteoli (ITA) could very well be in the podium picture after recently becoming the first snowboarder to stomp a 2160. Nicolas Huber (SUI) is the Bakuriani 2023 big air bronze medallist and has the nastiest switch backside 1800 nose grab in the business. On and on it goes.

This is going to be a big one, and we can’t wait to see of it all goes down.


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