Quebec's Vincent Gagnier is no stranger to the big air podium at the Association of Freeskiing Professionals (AFP) championships in Whistler, but his win on Saturday night was something he's been building up to for a long time.
"It just feels good to be on top of the podium because I was second last year and third the year before, so I just stepped it up every year," he said. "It felt safe. The landing was so soft that you couldn't really get hurt, so it just made everything super easy and super smooth. And fun."
Gagnier's signature trick is a 1260 spin (three and a half rotations, taking off switch, with a double bio spin and optigrab. It was perfectly executed, good enough to beat Gus Kenworthy's double corked 1620 (four and a half rotations) and Henrik Harlaut 1260 double corked Nose Butter.
None of the athletes landed a triple corked trick, but with the sun warming the snow in the afternoon the athletes couldn't get enough speed to get much further than the top of the landing ramp.
Gagnier said he wasn't worried too much about AFP tour points, or whether he would finish with the overall title. "I just let the judges decide," he said. "I do my think and if they like it I'm happy, and if they don't - whatever. There's really no pressure, nobody is serious up there, so it's really fun. It's the end of the year so everybody is relaxed."
After the contest, Gagnier said he was planning to spend the rest of the month skiing in Whistler and hanging out with friends. "There's lots of skiing, lots of park runs, still to do," he said.
In the end, Harlaut held onto the overall lead to take the AFP big air title, while Kenworthy was second and Gagnier third.
Next up at the AFP championships in the slopestyle. The qualifiers are on Sunday, April 13 and the finals, including the women's event, take place Monday. Visit www.wssf.com for more details.