Cardrona, New Zealand (5 September 2018) – It was scheduled to be a busy day of competition at Cardrona Alpine Resort today with the FIS Junior Snowboard Parallel Giant Slalom World Championships 2018 and the FIS Freeski World Cup Big Air Qualifying both on at the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ. While high winds caused delays to the Big Air and only heat one of the men’s field were able to compete, conditions were perfect on the racecourse and it was Russia’s day in the medals.
30 female racers and 39 male racers contested the morning’s qualification rounds of the Parallel Giant Slalom on the Upper Gold Rush run, each taking one run through the red course and one run through the blue course, with the combined time counting towards the top 16 cut off for finals.
Russian athletes dominated the qualifying rounds with Dmitry Loginov, Dmitriy Karlagachev and Llia Vitugov going one, two, three and signaling a challenge for the men’s podium, and Milena Bykova taking a clear lead in the ladies’ field.
Bykova came in to today’s race as defending FIS Junior World Champion in Parallel GS and with a 2018 season World Cup win already under her belt. She duly stormed through the final rounds to claim gold ahead of China’s Naiying Gong.
“I’m feeling great,” said Bykova. “I won last year so I expected my win and I was absolutely ready and I’m incredibly happy. To be honest I felt a little bit of pressure, but I knew I could win so I did it.”
The ladies’ small final also saw Russian racers going head to head, with Maria Valova racing to a bronze medal finish ahead of Elena Boltaeva.
The men’s finals went exactly to script, Loginov claiming the gold medal and Junior World Championship title, Karlagachev silver and Vitugov bronze. Germany’s Elias Huber finished in fourth place.
“I’m feeling so good about today and I’m incredibly happy about my win,” said Loginov.
“It was difficult racing against your own team mates but we’re all friends and we’re all fast so we’re happy about the win.”
As the wind died down in the afternoon there was enough time to run heat one of the men’s Freeski Big Air qualifiers, with NZ DJ duo Sweet Mix Kids playing in the background and amping up the vibe.
With dual sanctioning as an AFP Platinum level event, and the first FIS World Cup since Freeski Big Air was announced as an Olympic discipline for Beijing 2022, the start lists are a who’s-who of the sport’s heavy-hitters, and with sixteen starters and only five finals spots from each of the two men’s freeski heats, today was never going to be the day to hold back.
First man out of the gate, Canada’s Noah Morrison opened the bidding with a beautiful triple 1620 for a score of 89.60 on run one, and held on to the top spot, improving to a 93.00 on run two.
Andri Ragettli (SUI) took the second qualifying spot upping his score from 88.00 to 89.00 with a triple 1440 truck driver, a technical grab to hold through a triple.
Canada’s Teal Harle landed in third place with a technical and progressive rotation and double grab, a switch double 1440 safety to stalefish.
While 2018 Junior World Slopestyle Champion Oliwer Magnusson (SWE) was on strong form, landing an immaculate double 1440 tailgrab that was held right to the very end of the trick, putting him in to fourth place.
New Zealand’s Jackson Wells stomped his unique switch double misty 1260 double seatbelt safety grab on both runs and nailed down the fifth and final qualifying spot in a tightly fought race for the bubble.
Mac Forehand deserved a special mention for his huge switch triple 1620 safety, just missing the top five on execution points.