Hall, Second at VISA Big Air
U.S. Freeski athlete Alex Hall earned a huge second-place finish at the Visa Big Air presented by Toyota in Steamboat, Colorado on Saturday in front of a fired up crowd for the first-of-its-kind big air jump at Steamboat - the only Olympic qualifying big air competition of the season here in the U.S.
What started as a battle of 1800s in qualifiers progressed to a full-on 1980 throwdown in finals. The three-run format, with a best of two runs counting, left plenty of room for progression—and progress they did. Austria’s Matej Svancer was the first to up the ante, throwing down a left nosebutter triple 1980 safety on his second run of finals—the first time the trick has ever been landed in competition.
After witnessing Svancer’s level-up, two-time World Cup big air winner Hall answered back on his third and final run, stomping an incredible left double 1980 with his signature Buick grab. It was the first time Hall has ever even tried this trick, and to land it in competition with all the pressure of a home soil crowd on his shoulders was a huge moment for the 23-year-old.
“Yesterday was crazy and today was even crazier,” said Hall. “The jump was even better because we went in the afternoon, so it was really soft and we were able to go big. It was pretty much as good as a jump can get. I’m hyped to be on the podium, and I’m stoked for everyone to ski so well. Matej is obviously an animal and I’m just hyped to be up here with him and Antoine. We all had a really good time so that’s up there, too.”
France’s Antoine Adelisse rounded out the podium in third place, with his day highlighted by a switch right side pre-nose grab 1440. U.S. Freeski athlete Colby Stevenson earned a solid sixth-place finish among the field of ten men competing in Saturday’s finals.
In the women’s field, Eileen Gu battled it out with France’s Tess Ledeux for the top spot. The final run is where the action really heated up as Ledeux, who earned her best score when she landed a left double 1260 mute on her first run, just missed putting down a 1620 on her final run in an effort to bump herself into first.
With her victory already assured, Gu went ahead and upped the levels anyway, landing a right double 1440 safety, becoming the first woman ever to land the trick in competition.
“I made that decision (to do the double cork 1440) probably after I landed my second run,” said Gu from the finish area, “I felt like I had done the best of my ability for the dub 1260 and I really wanted to push it. I had a super good early season camp out in Europe where I learned the 1440, did the world’s first, and I had landed it enough that I felt comfortable to do it today. The boys were so inspiring out here throwing absolutely insane tricks, so I really wanted to represent the women as well and kind of step it up to the next level.
“It does a lot for my confidence—I’ve always thought of myself as a slopestyle skier and a halfpipe skier and now after this I guess I’m a big air skier, too.”
Ledeux would finish in second place, while Norway’s Johanne Killi would end up in third.
Today’s VISA Best Trick Award went to China’s Eileen Gu for the above mentioned, history making right double 1440 safety, while Svancer’s for his left nose butter 1980 safety would clearly earn him that honor on the men’s side of things.
The World Cup leaders after today’s finals are France’s Tess Ledeux and Austria’s Matej Svancer.
The U.S. National Champions in Big Air were also announced at the end of the Visa Big Air presented by Toyota —congratulations to Darien Stevens and Alex Hall.
The FIS Freeski World Cup season continues at Copper Mountain, Colorado with the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix, where the best halfpipe skiers in the world will one throwing down in Copper’s legendary 22-foot Superpipe: Dec. 10-11, 2021.
HOW TO WATCH
All times EST
Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021
11:00 p.m. FIS Freeski World Cup Visa Big Air Presented by Toyota Men and Women’s Finals - Same-day broadcast - NBCSN