Some of the biggest names in the sport may have been injured or still in Europe during this year’s Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival Big Air competition, but all of the biggest tricks showed up — including some combinations that have never been seen before in a big air competition.
The innovation was mostly on the skier side, while the snowboarders had a harder time adjusting to the style of jump. Rather than the usual tombstone step-down jump seen in past years, organizers used the abundance of snow to build a ramp that gapped over to a giant mound of snow. The result was that athletes could fly further and get more airtime, without getting as much air.
In the qualifier, Vernon’s Justin Dorey attempted the first ever double misty flip, Whistler’s Chris Turpin attempted a double barrel roll/kangaroo flip combination, and Ian Cosco pulled out a double corked 1260 (which he landed but still missed making top-three — a mini controversy, depending on where you were standing). The addition of a women’s category to the contest also gave Sarah Burke an opportunity to attempt a pretty stylish 1260 — taking off straight and landing backwards after three and a half spins — which she might have landed if the transition was a little less slushy.
But it was Pemberton’s Austin Ross who got the loudest cheer of the night with his second jump in the qualifier.
“I’m not really sure what they’re calling it, but it’s basically a flatspin 360 to a corked 540,” said Ross. “It’s a bit different than a lot of the doubles that other skiers are doing, most do a flatspin 180 to another 180.”
When asked why so many skiers were pushing the envelope, Ross gave credit to the event crew.
“I’ll tell you what it is, it’s the jump — the size of the jump and the shape of the jump,” he said. “They’ve figured out over the last couple of years that the standard step-down tabletop isn’t good anymore, and that the stepover is lower impact on the landings, and gives everyone more confidence to try more tricks and break out the doubles. I know the snowboarders weren’t as keen, but it was a perfect setup for skiers.
“It’s a little harder at this time of year when the landing is so soft, but you can make a few minor adjustments to your tricks to ride it out. I’m just stoked that the crowd responded, and I’m excited that my family came out to watch.”
Ross went on to the super finals, where athletes did four jumps — 540, 720 and 900 spins, followed by their best trick.