With almost all weather outlooks forecasting high winds and cloudy conditions, there was always the chance the ski cross and snowboard big air competitors would face some adverse conditions. Unfortunately, those weather prophecies came true in Laax. Both titles were eventually determined by qualifying runs alone, with the weather causing the cancellation of the head to head knockout rounds.
On the ski cross course, it was a genuine young gun, 13-year-old Octavia Steiger who set the fastest qualifying time (57.77) which was enough to earn her top spot on the women’s podium. She edged Emily Keen (58.93) by just over a second while Imogen Smith (1:00.42) was third).
“The race was good, conditions were tough but I thought I handled them well and it was very fun,” said Steiger. “The course was fun; it was different to last year which was good. It was challenging; it was a bit slow given the conditions but it was good.”
British Junior World Championships representative, Nick Bingham fared best in the tough conditions, stamping serious authority over the rest of the field. The youngster posted a time of 53.67, almost three seconds faster than anyone else at the time. Tommy Dade (55.40) closed the margin by more than a second on the final run, but it wasn’t enough to take the top spot, with Patrick Young (57.55) a further two seconds back in third.
“I thought the course was really great,” said Bingham. “A great competition as always and such a good way to finish off the season. I’m delighted to be British champion. I took part in the Junior Worlds in Austria before this so it was just a great way to finish off the season.”
While it was hoped that the best of the UKs lengthy list of kicker loving snowboarders would find a break in the clouds to battle it out on Laax’s money booster, but mother nature proved to be a tease today. During practice, the clouds briefly retreated to allow riders to fine tune their tricks. Soon after, the cloud crept back up towards Crap Sogn Gion, returning with rising winds and sticky snow and forcing competition to grind to a halt after a single seeding run.
Conditions prevented riders from hitting the biggest kicker but where the amplitude was down, the style was up. It was de-ja-vu for Matt McCormick, who was pipped at the post by Billy Cockrell, after both lay down mute 720s with the latter deemed to stomp his trick cleaner by the tiniest of margins. Fraser Jamieson took the bronze medal with a cranked 720 Japan.
“I was happy with the win today, it was hard conditions and they weren’t the same as last years, so a very different comp,” said Cockrell, named by GB Park+Pipe coaches as their most improved rider of 2019. “Still a good one and great to shred with everyone.”
Dropping first was 12-year-old sensation Mia Brookes who stomped a huge backside 720, opening the contest in style and running away with the win for the second year in succession. Silver went to yesterday’s snowboardcross champ Maisie Hill, who’s towering frontside 540 wasn’t clean enough to overhaul Brookes. Bronze went to the 2018 slopestyle champ Cerys Allen, with all riders looking to add to their strong results later in the week in the slopestyle in Laax’s epic snowpark.
Brookes, who invested last year’s winnings in some new Lego, was asked what she would do with this prize: “Buy a car, a mark 1 VW Caddy! And I’m gonna fill the back with Star Wars Lego…” This author likes the sound of that very much, just a small five years until Mia can drive it though!
Having lost the title he had held for three years, BBC’s Ed Leigh was looking for redemption after his boardercross result yesterday. With a go big or go home mentality, he dropped into the Masters' category and showed that dads can still get rad with an enormous laid out backflip over the sizeable medium kicker. With wins for his wife Sian and daughter Suki in the women’s masters and under 16s respectively, and a silver for son Oscar, it will be the household to celebrate with in Laax tonight!
Day 3 of Competition, Cancelled, April 4th
Laax’s week of 4 seasons continued today and competitions were unable to run due to heavy snow and high winds. This has meant that unfortunately, the ski and snowboard halfpipe competitions will not run in 2019, with both ski and snowboard slopestyle running in tandem on Friday. It wasn’t all bad though, competitors were greeted with more than 30cm of fresh snow so there was still plenty of fun to be had on the mountain.
Day 4 of Competition, Ski and Snowboard Slopestyle, 5th April