Progression and Consistency Reigned at Freeski Big Air Season Opener
U.S. Freeski Pro Team member Alex Hall finished eighth in Friday’s heated FIS Big Air World Cup season opener in Kreischberg Austria.
Men’s qualifiers kicked off an insane day of competition in a competitive environment that seemed too good to be true for an outdoor sporting event. Event organizers at Kreischberg did an amazing job building a perfect 70-foot jump complete with a steep landing and strong lighting. The only variable left was the weather, but Mother Nature came in clutch with clear skies and no wind. The scene was set for a stunning day of competition and the 2015 World Championships venue did not disappoint.
Hall was the sole American that made it through to the final round of the competition. However, making the top-five in one of two men’s qualification heats, each consisting of 32 hungry freeskiers, was no easy task.
“That was probably the heaviest qualifying round in a big air competition that I have ever witnessed,” said U.S. Freeski Team Head Coach Skogen Sprang. “Athletes needed two jumps scoring in the mid-90s just to advance and it came down to the last skier in the heat for Alex to make it safely into finals.”
The finals immediately followed qualifications where the level of progression and consistency continued. Athletes put on a display of technicality and creativity including nose butter, carving, and pre-grab take-offs, as well as multiple triple corks, 1800’s, and double grabs. It became clear that any rust that may have developed over the almost two month World Cup hiatus was long gone by the time the finalists dropped in for the big show.
Hall had a strong showing landing a left side double cork 1620 on his first run and a switch left double cork 1800 on his third run, both with his signature Buick grab. Despite two scores in the 90’s, the rest of the field was firing on all cylinders and he was unable to break into the top three.
Defending FIS Big Air Crystal Globe Winner Birk Ruud from Norway earned the top spot, followed by Antoine Adelisse of France in second-place, and Oliwer Magnusson of Sweden in third. For the women, another defending FIS Big Air Champion topped the podium as Giulia Tanno of Switzerland took the win. Tess Ledeux of France finished second and Estonian Kelly Sildaru finished third.
Elite level freeski competition will continue Jan. 29-31 at X Games Aspen at Buttermilk Mountain, Colo.