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Canadians podium at AFP finals

Mike Riddle wins halfpipe; Groenewoud third in pipe, Gagnier second in slopestyle



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Tom Wallisch was named the AFP slopestyle champion, although Kenworthy was still favoured to win the overall title as one of the few athletes that competes in all three disciplines.

Nick Goepper and Bobby Brown were second and third in the slopestyle rankings.

Big Air

It was all or nothing for Gus Kenworthy, who was determined to win the AFP Championship Big Air in Whistler on Saturday or go down in the attempt.

On a slushy jump where takeoff speed was a guessing game and landings were soft and "grabby," Kenworthy finally landed a double corked 1620 blunt spin — four and a half rotations and two inverts — even throwing in a long mute grab to win over the judges.

Up until that point, Quebec's Vincent Gagnier held the lead with his unique double bio 1260 with optigrab — the only skier of the evening performing that spinning and flipping trick.

In the end, the win went to Kenworthy with a 95.6, followed by Gagnier with a 94.2. Russ Henshaw of Australia landed the biggest double cork 1260 of the night to take third place with a 92.8.

Gagnier knew before the score came up that Kenworthy was going to take the lead. "Yeah, he grabbed that forever," he said, shaking his head. "It was pretty sick."

As for his own choice of tricks, Gagnier said he always wants to do something different than the other skiers.

"I never want to do the same trick as everyone," he said.

As for Kenworthy, it was more about landing his trick than winning.

"At the beginning of the night I through I'd try the 16 (1620) in the finals, and I did a 12 (1260 spin) and 14 (1440 spin) in the qualifier to build up to it," he said.

He crashed on his first attempt but landed the second one cleanly to win a Chevrolet Sonic valued at $22,000.

Combined with his win in the Slopestyle, Kenworthy won over $30,000 in cash and prizes this past weekend.

Kenworthy is one a few athletes that competes in all of the freeski disciplines, which he says makes things challenging.

"It's definitely harder to divide your attention," he said. "Big air and slopestyle are at least similar because you're jumping and a table is a table, but with pipe and slopestyle you need to change your focus to get ready."

Kenworthy still planned to compete in the halfpipe the next day, but with no training runs earlier in the week he made the decision to pull out.

In the women's big air, it was obvious early on that there was going to be a problem. Smaller and lighter than the men, the women were having a tough time clearing the table and landing on the transition. Several athletes crashed, including Canada's Keltie Hansen.