As expected, the last day of the Aspen 2021 FIS Snowboard and Freeski World Championships saw jumps with multiple spins, big grabs and high scores as new world champions — including the first athlete from the Russian Ski Federation to win gold in this event — were crowned in big air.
Skiing big air medalists were decided for both the men and women Tuesday morning on a course that was deemed faster than during qualifications. The event was run under partly cloudy skies, but by the afternoon, new snow moved onto Buttermilk Mountain as snowboard athletes attempted a similar feat as their two-planked brethren.
On the men’s side, Sweden’s Oliwer Magnusson — undeterred by a five-minute course hold before dropping for his third and final jump — executed a high-scoring switch double 1800 tail grab to bump Canada’a Edouard Therriault out of first and take gold in skiing big air. The combined score of the best two-out-of-three jumps determined the victor. Kim Gubser, of Switzerland, rounded out the podium thanks to his consistency and stuck landings.
Magnusson allowed that “I was really nervous” waiting out the multiple-minute course hold and just wanted to drop in and finish it off.
“Feeling super nice,” he said in post-event remarks, adding it was “my first win in a big competition. I’m super stoked.” His first jump score of 94.25 was the single highest among the freeskiing men.
Bronze medalist Gubser’s teammate Andri Ragettli finished in sixth and appeared to be nursing a sore knee after losing both skis on impact as he attempted a triple jump with five-and-a-half revolutions. Ragettli, X Games 2021 gold medalist in big air, charged out of the gate early with a 92 in the first round but wasn’t able to replicate his prior success.
Mac Forehand, in fourth with 180 points, was ski big air’s top American. Evan McEachran of Canada landed in fifth.
All told, 12 men advanced to Tuesday’s finals, though top qualifier Birk Ruud withdrew due to his father’s worsening health, according to FIS. The 2019 world medalist, Swiss skier Fabian Boesch, did not compete Tuesday.
Alex Hall, the second American in the men’s final, finished in seventh — though his fate might have been different had Hall’s hand not brushed the terra firma following a massive switch left double 1800 “Buick” on his second run.
The women’s ski big air contest saw firsts as well, with a pair of athletes from the Russian Ski Federation — Anastasia Tatalina and Lana Prusakova — taking gold and silver, respectively.
Tatalina’s gold was a first-ever for an RSF athlete in a freeskiing world championships, according to FIS. Adding yet another first was Eileen Gu, of China, who became the first athlete to ever win three freeski medals in the same world championships.
Winner Tatlina’s runs — both of which scored over 90 — included both a right double 1260 mute grab and one that spun to the left. It’s believed that Tuesday was the first time a woman has landed this trick in both directions in the same competition.
“It’s amazing. I just trained so hard for this one, and I finally made it on the competition,” Tatalina said. “I’m so happy. It’s a great result [to be the first Russian athlete to win gold at the Freeski World Championships].” She thanked “the Russian Federation, my coaches and my family for their support. It’s amazing.”
Gu, the California teenager who competes for China and by now needs no introduction, went bronze, to earn that third medal of the World Championships (last week she took gold in halfpipe and slopestyle). That matches her outstanding X Games Aspen 2021 medal haul.
“I’m not going to lie: I did not expect a medal in this event,” Gu said, noting it was only her third big air event ever.
After falling on the first run, she had to overcome the pressure of nailing the next two jumps. Something Gu said she kept in mind was that “every run is worth the same amount… Today was about pushing my own limits and to show myself what was possible,” Gu said.
Defending champion Tess Ledeux of France was not able to repeat her 2019 placing in Park City, Utah. No American women advanced to finals.