Women’s Snowboard Halfpipe: Monster Energy’s Chloe Kim Returns with Dominant Victory
On Saturday night under the spotlights, the snowboard action culminated in the Laax Superpipe. Revered as the world’s largest snow halfpipe, the Olympic-sized superpipe at over 22.5 feet in height and 650 feet in length provided the perfect backdrop for a spectacular show. As a special treat, the Women’s Snowboard Halfpipe event saw Monster Energy’s Chloe Kim return to competition. In 2019, the 20-year-old from Long Beach, California, had decided to take a two-season hiatus to focus on her academic studies at Princeton.
But making a comeback at Laax was no walk in the park for the Olympic gold medalist. After qualifying into the final in first place, Kim was in for a harsh awakening in the six-rider contest. On her first run, she lost her momentum after a botched landing and found herself trailing behind in fifth place at 30.25 points as Japan’s Mitsuki Ono took the lead.
When it all came down to Run 2, the ‘Queen of the Superpipe’ once again proved her grace under pressure. Opening her run with a huge method air, Kim put down a frontside 1080 tailgrab, switch 720 Weddle, frontside 900 tailgrab and a classic McTwist with a slight alley-oop angle for a score of 89.75 points, taking the win more than 13 points ahead of the next competitor.
“I’m so happy I was able to land something today and just really stoked to be competing again. It’s been almost two years. I was so nervous coming into this competition, but super happy to be back!” said Kim upon claiming the Women’s Snowboard Halfpipe Win at Laax Open 2021.
Saturday night’s victory brings Kim back into the winner’s circle after ending her 2019 season with a second-place finish at the Burton U.S. Open. The Team USA winter sports athlete officially holds all of snowboarding’s major titles: Kim took gold at the 2018 Winter Olympics as well as X Games Aspen 2019 and the 2019 FIS Snowboarding World Championships. She won her first U.S. Open halfpipe title in 2016 at age 15 and was listed among the ‘Most Influential People of 2018’ by TIME Magazine. Welcome back!
Men’s Snowboard Halfpipe: Monster Energy’s Yuto Totsuka Takes 1st Place with Epic Run
In the Men’s Snowboard Halfpipe event, a field of twelve international top athletes took on the Laax Superpipe. As riders from Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Australia, and the United States went head-to-head in the night session, one thing became apparent: Even the global pandemic can’t hold back the rapid evolution of halfpipe snowboarding that manifested in ultra-technical runs replete with 1440-degree rotations, technical switch tricks, and never-been-done moves.
But as the action progressed in the final session, it all boiled down to a storied rivalry: Monster Energy’s Totsuka against Australian halfpipe phenom Scotty James. On their last encounter at the 2020 U.S. Open, it was Totsuka who gained the upper hand after trailing James for several seasons. But straight out the gate, James was back to dominant form at Laax Open 2021. A flawless run propelled James to the top of the leaderboard with a 93.25-point score, leaving Totsuka in close second place at 90.25 points.
When it all came down to his second run, next-generation ripper Totsuka needed to show the judges something they had never seen before. And he did: Dropping into the Laax Superpipe, Totsuka started his run with a massive frontside double cork 1440 right into a never-been-done combo of switch frontside double cork 1260 into a switch backside double cork 1080, followed by a backside 1260 and frontside 1260 for the weekend’s highest score of 95.25 points and first place.
“I’m super happy to make the double cork into 1080 for the very first time in my life and take the win today,” said Totsuka upon taking first place in the Men’s Snowboard Halfpipe final at Laax Open 2021 on Saturday.
Known as one of the pacesetters of halfpipe snowboarding’s evolution, Totsuka has already earned FIS World Cup Crystal Globe wins in 2018 and 2019, as well as the coveted 2020 U.S. Open title. Looking ahead, the reigning Japanese national halfpipe champion is set to return to competition at X Games Aspen next weekend. The rookie already owns two X Games silver medals – will this be the year for Totsuka to claim his first X Games gold? Stay tuned!
Speaking of X Games, prepare for the greatest winter sports spectacle kicking off in less than one week from now. X Games Aspen 2021 will bring together elite athletes across ski and snowboard disciplines on Buttermilk Mountain in the heart of the Rocky Mountains for the 20th-consecutive year from January 29-31, 2021. Expect the world’s best performances across Big Air, Slopestyle, Halfpipe, and Knuckle Huck disciplines. For the first time, the live-action will be supplemented by the virtual X Fest fan experience for a chance to win prizes, enjoy exclusive content, and connect with X Games sponsors including Monster Energy.