Purple is the color of royalty, and Mark McMorris — sporting a purple outfit Tuesday for the final competition of the Aspen 2021 FIS Snowboard and Freeski World Championships — rode like a king in the snowboard big air finals. McMorris’ gold medal came after back-to-back 1600s that he successfully put down in his first two runs.
“It’s dream-come-true type of stuff,” said McMorris, who admitted to being disappointed by his inability to qualify for the slopestyle finals earlier in the championships that began March 10 and wrapped up Tuesday afternoon.
Speaking to the sport’s progression, McMorris noted, “It’s not an easy podium to stand on top of these days.”
According to FIS, McMorris is the first Canadian man to win snowboarding big air in the world championships. The competition was canceled at the 2019 world championships, and the 2018 Olympic gold medalist Sebastien Toutant did not advance to Tuesday’s finals.
McMorris saluted his teammate Laurie Blouin, who reigned supreme in the hotly contested women's snowboard big air event. “Honored to stand aside Laurie,” he said.
Blouin saved her best trick for last, and in doing so was able to overtake then leader Zoi Sadowski Synnott, of New Zealand, in her final run. Miyabi Onitsuka, of Japan, won bronze and U.S. Team member Jamie Anderson finished seventh out of eight.
While judges rewarded Anna Gasser, defending world champion from 2017 and Olympic gold medalist from PyeongChang, with a high score on her final jump which was a frontside 1080, she finished just off the podium, in fourth.
“The level was insane” of the women riders, Blouin said. “I mean everyone just rode so well. It’s pretty crazy. Girls are starting to do 12s (three-and-one-half revolutions) so I’m definitely going to need to work on my 12s now.”
Representing Norway, Marcus Kleveland zoomed into bronze after a breathtaking jump that included the day’s highest-scoring trick, at 97.75: a cab 1800 indy. Kleveland earned gold in slopestyle last week.
Joining teammate McMorris on the men’s podium was Max Parrot, who kept the contest interesting with a solid final run which wasn’t enough to overtake the top spot but gave Canada yet another reason to celebrate in the final event of the 2021 World Championships.
“I’m happy I played it smart today,” Parrot said, adding he was satisfied after landing a pair of technically demanding runs, given the moody spring weather that provided myriad and ever-changing conditions.
Judd Henkes, of the U.S. Snowboard Team, finished in seventh place out of 12 and was asked to reflect upon the current level of riders.
“Big air snowboarding is insane… People are so talented,” Henkes said. “It’s a game of inches, you gotta land perfect.” His observations fell in line with a prediction by David Reynolds, slopestyle and big air snowboarding pro and rookie team coach for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team, who said that each big air contest seemed to surpass the previous event’s level.