Langland returns to World Cup podium as Gasser wins women’s snowboard slope
California’s Hailey Langland snagged her first World Cup podium in four years as Austria’s Anna Gasser went for broke in winning Saturday’s women’s snowboard slopestyle contest at the U.S. Grand Prix and World Cup at Buttermilk Ski Area in Aspen.
The first official qualifier for the U.S. Olympic team ahead of the 2022 Games in China, the 20-year-old Langland put herself in good position to make her second Olympic team by finishing second on Saturday with a second-run score of 72.30.
She didn’t fare too well last week at the world championships in Aspen, finishing 15th in slopestyle and 25th in big air.
“I’ve had kind of a rocky start out here in Aspen. Last week I didn’t really get the results I wanted to and I definitely didn’t get to land the runs I wanted to, but this is such a refresher,” Langland said. “It’s a really big surprise for me. All the girls are riding so well and I’m just trying to push my riding just like they have been. I’m so in love with snowboarding and want to keep learning new tricks.”
Langland’s last podium at a World Cup came on Feb. 4, 2017, when she was second in a slopestyle contest at Mammoth. She’s a three-time X Games medalist, including big air gold in 2017.
The 29-year-old Gasser’s last World Cup slopestyle podium was Jan. 12, 2019, when she took second. She is the reigning Olympic big air champion and a four-time X Games gold medalist, although she finished a mere seventh this past January in both big air and slopestyle.
Her last World Cup slopestyle win? It was Jan. 14, 2017, in her home country of Austria.
“It feels so good. I’m so happy. It’s been a while, especially in slopestyle,” Gasser said. “I don’t remember the last time I took a win. So I’m so happy that I went full in and was good enough for first.”
Photos: Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle Finals
Gasser’s 81.90 scored on her first of three finals runs was more than enough to hold off the field, which included Langland and bronze medalist Enni Rukajarvi of Finland, who scored 71.91 on her first run. Japan’s Kokomo Murase was fourth with 67.76 on a warm, but windy, spring day.
Rounding out the field were Australia’s Tess Coady in fifth (60.15), Tahoe’s Jamie Anderson in sixth (55.61), Canada’s Laurie Blouin in seventh (46.50) and Connecticut’s Julia Marino in eighth (45).
By winning, Gasser took the overall World Cup leader’s yellow jersey from Anderson. The World Cup slopestyle season still has one more contest, coming next week in Silvaplana, Switzerland. There is no big air contest this week at the Aspen Grand Prix, which concludes Sunday with the halfpipe contests.
“Today I went in with an all-or-nothing kind of mentality and I’m so happy it worked out,” Gasser said. “It’s been a difficult season for me, mindset wise, because with the corona, a long break, and I really love people at the bottom, so for me it’s been a little harder than usual. But I feel like I’m warmed up now and ready for the last competition.”
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Oregon’s Laurenne Ross and New Castle’s Alice McKennis Duran both announced their retirement in recent days and celebrated together during Saturday’s downhill. McKennis Duran is a local namesake who grew up skiing at Sunlight in Glenwood and formerly trained with the AVSC.