Chris Corning wins bronze at season’s final snowboard slopestyle World Cup
FRISCO — Chris Corning won bronze in Sunday’s final snowboard slopestyle World Cup of the season in Silvaplana, Switzerland.
Corning, a 21-year-old and seven-time International Ski & Snowboard Federation crystal globe winner, closed out his season to bottle up momentum and confidence heading into the offseason ahead of the remainder of the 2022 Winter Olympic qualifying process. Corning’s third-place finish was his first podium of the season during a winter where the quantity of contests have been limited in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Corning, a former Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club athlete, compared Sunday’s bronze at the Swiss World Cup to previous contests in his career, including the bronze he took at X Games Norway and wins at Czech Republic and New Zealand World Cups, which helped him build momentum heading into extended time away from competition.
“This means a lot for me to be able to finish off the season doing well,” Corning said. “Any time I’ve come off of a good last contest the other years, I’ve done well the next year after that.”
Corning earned his spot on the podium with a finals run scored at 83.25, the highest American score on the day, behind Norwegian champion Marcus Kleveland (96.00) and runner-up Liam Brearley of Canada (89.00). The goofy-footed Corning earned the score with a cab — riding right foot forward and rotating to his board’s front side — 180 onto a down-flat-down rail before executing a front boardslide with a 270-degree rotation off the rail. Corning then landed an alley-oop 360 on the quarterpipe before a 180 onto a flat rail and switch backside 360-degree rotation off the rail.
On the course’s three jumps, Corning landed a cab 1260-degree rotation with a nose grab before rotating flat frontside for 1440 degrees with a melon grab on the next jump. On the final and largest jump, 80 feet from takeoff to landing, Corning again rotated 1440 degrees with a melon grab, this time to his board’s back side and with three corked rotations.
On the course’s final feature, a banana rail, Corning landed a rodeo flip rotating to his board’s back side while grabbing the nose. Corning felt the judges rewarded him for his smooth run with solid landings where he didn’t put his hands down on the snow.
The 2018 Olympian said his slopestyle run is becoming more consistent than it’s ever been. The familiarity with his tricks, Corning said, is enabling him now to toy with what kind of grabs he can add to the tricks to pick up extra points at contests next season.
In the lead up to the Olympics, Corning said top international competitors like him will likely go back to the drawing board to try to take down Kleveland, who has become the top dog in a loaded global field this abbreviated season. Kleveland landed a frontside 1440 and backside and cab 1620s to win Sunday.
Corning said he expects slopestyle in the next year will progress to the point where top-scoring riders will need to land 1620s or 1800s in competition to contend with Kleveland. Corning was part of a next-level X Games Aspen big air contest earlier this winter where he landed multiple 1800s with Kleveland and other top riders.
“We know he’s got more, too,” Corning said. “It’s pretty gnarly. We need to figure out what he’s doing and try to get close to him so we have something to bring to the Olympics and contests.”
At the world championships and Grand Prix Olympic qualifier earlier this month in Aspen, Corning went for his quad-cork 1800 on smaller slopestyle jumps, but wasn’t able to get the fourth and final inversion around.
“Big air is pushing (slopestyle) a lot faster than it would be without big air,” Corning said. “It’s going to be, ‘Learn these tricks, then put it in your slope run.’”
Sunday’s podium helped Corning in the World Snowboard points list standings, but the event was not an official qualifier for the American 2022 Olympic team, which in February will take four riders from a deep roster to China.
Corning was the fifth highest-scoring American at the Aspen Olympic slopestyle qualifier, behind overall runner-up Red Gerard of Silverthorne and teammates Dusty Henricksen, Judd Henkes and Brock Crouch. In Switzerland on Sunday, Corning finished ahead of Henricksen (fifth) and Crouch (sixth), who were the only other Americans to make finals. Slopestyle qualifiers determine which Americans will represent the country in both slopestyle and big air at the Olympics.
Corning will attend the U.S. snowboard team’s camp at Mammoth Mountain in California in May. When Olympic qualifiers resume early next winter, Corning’s goal is to be the top American at each qualifier.
“Last (Olympic qualifying process) I just wanted to beat the Americans at every contest I went to, because if you can do that you have a good chance in going,” Corning said.
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