“It feels really, really good [to end the season with a win],” said Kenworthy of today’s win. Today’s podium finish marks Gus’s seventh podium finish of the year, most recently he double medaled at Winter X Games Oslo. He continued about today’s event, “I kind of had not the highest expectations for myself at this event. I came in feeling like I’d already had a good season and wanted to have a fun contest to end the year. Of course, it’s always nice to do well but I didn’t think I was going to win by any means. So to put down a run I’m happy with and end the season with a win, it feels really good.”
The event began under auspicious circumstances, with the sun shining on the Alps resort, yet during the women’s event, the fog moved in, halting a number of men’s riders from dropping. Frequently a few men would drop in for their runs, then there would be a course hold due to visibility, sometimes up to an hour between athletes. “The weather holds really turned today in one of the harder days I’ve had on skis,” said Woods about the weather. “The pressure builds up and nothing is certain, you know?”
Gus, who had not landed either of his first two runs, was feeling pressure before he dropped in for what would become the winning run. “You’re waiting for so long and you have a small pocket of light where you have to put it down. They started sending people and then we’d have to wait for weather to clear; that makes it tough on everyone and it makes it such a mental game.”
When Gus was finally given the green light, he dropped in, starting with a 450 on to the first rail, pretzel 270 off. He did a switch 540 nose butter over the wave feature, and dropped a massive double cork 1080 blunt on the first jump. He then combo-ed a rightside double cork 1260 mute to switch left double cork 1080 blunt on the last jump. Gus undoubtedly had the best quarterpipe trick of the day, a massive switch 720 japan, a testament to his transition skills. On the final rail—that foiled him a run earlier—Kenworthy did a disaster to back 270 off the drop-rail.
“I was so stoked to put it down on my third run—I think everyone put down a third run in the bad weather, which is really impressive,” exhaled Kenworthy after his run.
James Woods, who started the season off this year with a win in New Zealand, has had the unenviable position of a string of 4th place finishes this year, broke through again today. Despite the weather, he managed to put runs down all three tries today, making consistency his key. “I was in 2nd place for so long and then I still could have come 11th… For an hour at a time we were waiting for guys to drop. It’s a lot of pressure. It just comes down to believing that you can put down the run and believing ithat you can make that a reality.”
His run started off with a switch 450 transfer on the first rail, coming off switch. He then switch tail pressed to 360 over the wave feature. His first jump was a enormous leftside double cork 1080 safety to japan, which he followed up with a rightside double cork 1260 blunt, and his signature switch double cork 1080 octo-grab. On the quarterpipe Woodsy did a nice pop-tart (switch air to forward) and then got tech on the last rail feature: a switch up to back 450 off.
Always cheerful, Woodsy commented about the day, “I’m always trying my best and I’m always proud of how I’m skiing, but it’s always nice to get a bit of a reward and end up on the podium.”
And on the women’s side of things, Emma Dahlstrom managed yet another podium finish this year, making it one of her most successful. “I think this is my seventh podium out of eight contests. I’m really happy. I don’t know how i managed to ski so consistently but I feel like I’ve been keeping the same row as last year and have been believing in my skiing and it’s worked out.”
While the women didn’t have to deal with the same weather holds as the men did, the women still had fog roll in and blot out the sunlight that was so enjoyable during practice. Emma, who as noted earlier, is Ms. Consistency, put down her medal run on the first try: starting off as the only female to 270 on pretzel 270 off the top rail. She then did a smooth nose butter 360 over the wave, and into a rightside 540 safety over the first jump. Then she dropped a switch 540 truck driver and 720 japan on the final two jumps. A hand plant would follow on the quarterpipe and a switch up to 270 off the last rail.