Gold medals handed out in ski big air, skicross Saturday at world champs

Ben Ramsey/Park Record
Gold medalist Francois Place, of France, celebrates on the podium after the men's ski cross event at the freestyle ski and snowboard world championships Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, in Solitude, Utah. (AP Photo/Alex Goodlett)
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PARK CITY, Utah — Julia Krass, the World Championship big air silver medalist, has been living in a whirlwind.

On Jan. 27, the 21-year-old freestyle skier participated in the Sieser Alm World Cup in Italy, where she took third in slopestyle — her specialty — her first World Cup podium.

On Jan. 28, she flew to Park City, where she lives part time, and on Tuesday she found out her results in Seiser Alm bumped up her rankings enough to qualify her for the World Championships. Not content to compete only in slopestyle, she started training for her first-ever big air competition on Friday.

By Saturday night, she was standing on a World Championship podium in her home away from home.

“It’s pretty crazy,” she said after the medals ceremony. “I was still feeling a little jet lagged. Right before finals I was starting to crash, so I drank some coffee.”

With no prior records in big air, she had nearly nothing to prove. Her focus was solely on giving it a good go. She ignored the thought that her parents were somewhere in the massive crowd below — larger than she sees on the World Cup circuit — and dropped into the big air ramp above Canyons Village at Park City Mountain Resort. Her fatigue didn’t show in her performance. She nailed her first trick — a double cork 1080 safety — scoring a 88.75.

To beat the other competitors, she would have to perform a different trick, spinning the opposite direction. Her good start allowed her to focus on nailing the more-complicated jump she had in mind — a switch right double cork 1080 safety. She had never actually done it in competition before, but she’d landed it a few times in practice.

She started her run well — swooping down the slope backward — but somewhere in the three spins and two flips, she couldn’t quite get her hand down on the edge of her skis by her boot to earn the much-needed points for her safety grab. Her score, a 67.75 out of 100, reflected it.

“My second one was super sloppy,” she said. “So I was really thankful I had a second shot at it.” She stuck the switch 1080 on the third run, finding that crucial edge of her ski with her gloved hand, and earned an 85 from the judges for a combined score of 173.75.

As the second athlete to go, she then sat in the finish area and watched as five other skiers tried their best to bump her off the podium. But one by one, they finished just shy of her score.

Only Tess Ledeux of France placed above her with a combined score of 184.75, while Isabel Atkin of Great Britain finished third (168.75). After claiming her medal, Krass, a native of Hanover, New Hampshire, signed autographs and spoke with fans and media. But she wouldn’t have long to enjoy her accomplishment.

There is still slopestyle — ostensibly the reason she is at the World Championships — waiting for her in just three days.

Place, Thompson earn gold at worlds in skicross event

SOLITUDE, Utah (AP) — Francois Place of France won the men’s skicross final at the world championships by holding off Olympic gold medalist Brady Leman.

In an event that calls for side-by-side racing over bumps and jumps at high rates of speed, Place took the victory Saturday over Canadian teammates Leman and Kevin Drury. Leman captured the Olympic crown at the Pyeongchang Games last February in the fast-paced competition.

On the women’s side, Marielle Thompson of Canada beat Swiss racer Fanny Smith for the win. Alizee Baron of France captured the bronze. Thompson was the gold medalist at the 2014 Sochi Games.


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