McMorris, Blouin give Canada the golden sweep in big air snowboarding at worlds
Mark McMorris bounced back from a disappointing slopestyle performance and Laurie Blouin made it a Canadian sweep as the pair topped the snowboard big air podiums Tuesday on the final day of the world championships at Buttermilk Ski Area in Aspen.
“It’s not an easy podium to stand on top of these days,” McMorris said. “The big air event has continually progressed to new heights and I’m stoked to be a part of it.”
The men’s podium separated itself from the pack in Tuesday’s final, with McMorris just holding off fellow countryman Max Parrot and Norway’s Marcus Kleveland. McMorris, who twice has won worlds silver in slopestyle (2013 and 2019), won his first world championship gold and his first worlds medal in big air. He’s also the first Canadian to win big air gold at worlds.
McMorris scored 179.25 in finals. He scored 92.75 on his first jump and 86.50 on his second jump, with athlete scores being their best two of three runs in finals. He put down a pair of 1620s — that’s four-and-a-half rotations — to take gold and bounce back from not having made it out of slopestyle qualifiers last week.
The Canadian legend owns 20 Winter X Games medals — the most all-time — and has a pair of Olympic slopestyle bronzes.
“It’s a dream come true type stuff, for sure,” McMorris said. “Had a tough go in slopestyle, so waiting and waiting and waiting and then qualified in first and I knew I had a shot to do well and then the weather provided for us.”
Parrot had scores of 89.50 and 88.75 for a total of 178.25. He had hoped to put down an 1800 on his second run but couldn’t land it and opted to go back to the 1620 for his third run with a podium spot within reach.
This was Parrot’s first time competing at world championships; he finished sixth in slopestyle on Friday. He’s an eight-time X Games champion.
“I’m happy,” Parrot said. “I played it smart today. Sometime you have to play it smart to go on the podium.”
After not recording a score on his first jump, Kleveland scored 78.50 on his second and then a contest-best 97.75 on his third and final trick to jump onto the podium with a total of 176.25. Kleveland won slopestyle gold last week and now has three medals in three events at worlds, the other being another big air bronze from 2017. He’s also a four-time X Games champion, including having won big air gold back in January.
The only American competing in finals was California’s Judd Henkes, who finished seventh out of 12 riders with 152 (78.75-73.25).
“I’m stoked to put down two tricks and have some momentum moving into the next contest,” said Henkes, who will stick around for the Grand Prix later this week. “Big air snowboarding is insane. It’s really crazy. People are so talented. It’s a game of inches. You got to land perfect.”
Finishing fourth Tuesday was Japan’s Ruki Tobita (166.50), in fifth was Japan’s Kaito Hamada (166.25) and in sixth was Italy’s Emiliano Lauzi (160.75). After Henkes in seventh was Norway’s Staale Sandbech (eighth, 136.50), Finland’s Rene Rinnekangas (ninth, 116.50), Australia’s Matthew Cox (10th, 111.50), Sweden’s Niklas Mattsson (11th, 104.75) and Germany’s Leon Guetl (12th, 91.25).
Blouin beats Sadowski-Synnott for women’s gold
In the women’s contest, Blouin held off New Zealand’s Zoi Sadowski-Synnott to give Canada the golden sweep in snowboard big air at worlds. Blouin scored 177.75 (88-89.75) to Sadowski-Synnott’s 176.75 (92-84.75) to give the Canadian a second world championship title. Her first was from slopestyle in 2017.
“It was a really heavy final. The girls are just pushing it. It’s so nice to see that. I’m stoked on how I rode,” Blouin said. “It’s pretty crazy. Girls are starting to do 12s. So I’m definitely going to need to work on my 12 now.”
Sadowski-Synnott defended her slopestyle world title on Friday to give her a gold and silver medal at this year’s world championships. She now has four total medals from worlds to go with a slopestyle silver from 2017.
“I’m pretty stoked. I had the goal of doing the front and the back 10s today, so I’m really happy to have put those downs,” Sadowski-Synnott said. “Coming into Aspen I just wanted to defend my world champs slopestyle title and then for big air it was to get those two tricks and I didn’t really mind where I ended up as long as I got those two.”
Japan’s Miyabi Onitsuka finished a close third on Tuesday with 174.75 (89.75-85). It’s the 24-year-old’s third world championship medal but first in big air. She won slopestyle gold back in 2015 and then won slopestyle bronze in 2017.
Rounding out the eight-woman final were Austria’s Anna Gasser (fourth, 170.25), Australia’s Tess Coady (fifth, 151.75), Japan’s Kokomo Murase (sixth, 110.25), Tahoe’s Jamie Anderson (seventh, 90) and Japan’s Reira Iwabuchi (eighth, 61.75).
The big air contests wrapped up the 2021 world championships in Aspen. Now, Buttermilk will host a World Cup and U.S. Grand Prix event that begins with the first qualifiers on Thursday. Like with worlds, spectators are not permitted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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It’s truly a lunch lap when you order a burger on the gondola, pick it up on the top of the mountain and then eat it on the next lift ride up.