U.S. Snowboard Team Convenes at 2019 Laax Open
Seven women and 18 men make up the U.S. Snowboard Team roster of athletes going head to head with the world’s snowboarding elite in slopestyle and halfpipe at the FIS Snowboard World Cup Laax Open in Switzerland, Jan. 15-19.
Entries include 19 different countries spanning five continents. The last time U.S. Ski & Snowboard athletes were in Laax was in 2017. This year marks the fourth season of the Laax Open in its current form, though the resort has been a host of memorable top-level competition dating all the way back to 1993. According to president & CEO of Laax Ski Resort Reto Gurtner “The Laax Open brings all snowboarders together: the top riders, the amateurs and rising stars, the next generation of jibbers and all the boarder families. It’s a mountain lifestyle affair!”
The 2017 Laax Open did not disappoint with incredible performances in the halfpipe from U.S. Snowboard Team members Chase Josey (Sun Valley, Idaho) and Chloe Kim (Torrance, Calif.). The conditions were tough to beat with clear skies, no wind and a laser cut halfpipe. Josey arguably had the breakout performance of his career where he claimed his first ever World Cup victory with style and technicality. Josey landed five consecutive doubles, two of which were back-to-back switch doubles. Kim was also on one winning with a run that was almost exclusively switch and included one frontside 1080. Since 2017, Josey and Kim have gradually increased their amplitude, run difficulty, and experience. Knowing that Josey and Kim are clearly comfortable in Laax, this year’s competition is set up to be quite the spectacle.
"I’m looking forward to the Laax Open because is consistently one of the best halfpipes in the world and really allows everyone to showcase their best riding,” said Josey. “This is my first year back at Laax since winning in 2017, so I’m excited to go out there, try some runs and aim at the podium again.”
Josey and Kim will be joined by an all-star cast including U.S. Snowboard Pro Team athletes, Jake Pates (Eagle, Colo.), Gabe Ferguson (Bend, Ore.), Taylor Gold (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) and Ryan Wachendorfer (Edwards, Colo.). In addition, U.S. Rookie Team members competing include Chase Blackwell (Longmont, Colo.), Lucas Foster (Telluride, Colo.), Jack Coyne (Edwards, Colo.), Jason Wolle (Winter Park, Colo.) and American Josh Bowman (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.).
For the women, Kim is leading the charge with U.S. Snowboard teammates Arielle Gold (Steamboat Springs, Calif.) and 2018 Toyota U.S. Copper Grand Prix and Dew Tour medalist Maddie Mastro (Wrightwood, Calif.). U.S. Rookie Team member Tessa Maud (Carlsbad, Calif.) and American Zoe Kalapos (Vail, Colo.) will also be competing.
For slopestyle, U.S. Snowboard Team heavy hitters for both the men and the women are making their way to Laax including Chris Corning (Silverthorne, Colo.), who is fresh off a second place in slopestyle at the Kreischberg World Cup slopestyle in Austria, and a second place at the Dew Tour in Breckenridge, Colorado. Joining Corning in Laax is U.S Pro Team members Judd Henkes (La Jolla, Calif.), Nik Baden (Steamboat Springs, Calif.), Lyon Farrell (Haiku, Hawaii), and Ryan Stassel (Anchorage, Alaska). In addition, U.S. Rookie Team member Sean Fitzsimons (Hood River, Ore.) and Americans Grant Giller (Salt Lake City, Utah) and Will Healy (Riverside, Conn.) are set to compete.
For the women, coming off a second-place at the Dew Tour in slopestyle, Julia Marino (Westport, Conn.) will lead the way for the ladies with teammate Hailey Langland (San Clemente, Calif.).
With a stacked roster heading into the 2019 Laax Open World Cup, the current FIS World Cup standings are bound to see experience some change. In halfpipe, with the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix at Copper and the Secret Garden, China, World Cups in the books, Toby Miller (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.) is ranked sixth and Josey is ranked eighth. To catch points leaders Jan Scherrer of Switzerland in first and Australian Scotty James in second, Josey will need to step up. If his past performances in Laax are any representation, this is not far fetched by any means. For the women, Kim is fourth and Mastro in sixth chasing the leader Cai Xuetong from China.
Currently, two Americans sit in the top 10 of the World Cup slopestyle standings following the Kreischberg, Austria, World Cup. Corning is fifth and Stassel is seventh behind slopestyle World Cup leader Takeru Otsuka from Japan. Miyabi Onitsuka from Japan leads the slopestyle standings for the ladies followed by Reira Iwabuchi of Japan and Austria’s Anna Gasser ranked third.
HOW TO WATCH
*Subject to change
*All times EST
Friday, Jan. 18
6:00 a.m. - Men and women’s slopestyle - Laax, SUI - OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
3:00 p.m. - Men and women’s slopestyle - Laax, SUI - Olympic Channel-TV*
Saturday, Jan. 19
8:00 a.m. - Men and women’s parallel giant slalom - Rogla, SLO - OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
11:30 a.m. - Men and women’s halfpipe - Laax, SUI - Olympic Channel-TV, OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold