Moseley captures slopestyle crown
VAIL – Two years ago, he competed for and won an Olympic gold medal in moguls. On Saturday, Jonny Moseley competed for and won a prize he will
cherish nearly as much as that Olympic hardware.
Moseley, who electrified the country two years ago by throwing his signature 360 mute grab trick on the way to winning that gold at the
Nagano Winter Olympics, now displays his aerial talents in the emerging free-skiing movement, whose biggest stars hit Vail this weekend for the third annual U.S. Freeskiing Open, hosted by Freeze Magazine.
Competing with 29 other big-air artists Saturday in the slopestyle event,
where competitors launch tricks off a pair of huge kicker jumps and a quarter hit while also negotiating a step-rail, Moseley performed a near-flawless final run to outdistance high-flying Canadians Vincent Dorion and Marc Andre Belliveau.
“I’ve got an Olympic gold medal, World Cup medals, second at the Gravity
Games, second at the X-Games. But this event is so core, so true to skiing, everyone here is a ski junkie, everyone’s come here to see the sport in its true form,” Moseley said.
“But to win amongst my peers is huge. It means a lot to me. The gold medal is obviously No. 1, but this is right up there.”
Moseley was one of 10 competitors who advanced to the final round by
impressing a five-judge panel that evaluated each run for variety of tricks performed and quality of landings.
Dorion drew the third start position in the final round, and he took the early lead with a score of 9.12 that included a 360-degree spin on the rail and continued with a 900-degree spin on the first kicker.
“On the second one I did a rodeo, and I stuck it, I’m pretty stoked,” Dorion said. “The finals were sick. We saw a lot of good tricks, lot of good runs, not much crashing … it was pretty good.”
Five skiers later, Moseley took the course and started solid on the rail before launching the biggest air of the competition on the top quarter hit. He landed sideways off the first kicker, gaining points for technical difficulty, before throwing a dinner roll 900 off the bottom kicker and finishing with a solid landing.
The effort earned Moseley the top score of 9.24, and he said gaining confidence on the rail was the key.
“I was never really proficient at rails, but I learned them really quick,” Moseley said. “That was the only thing I felt was holding me back, so once I learned those rails and got confident on that, I felt I could win it.
“The run before (the finals) I did the same run before and stuck it. But sometimes when you stick a run, you don’t know how the next one will be.
Sometimes you go bad-good and good-bad. I kind of felt weird up there, but
I just pulled it together. I feel good. I was on.”
Belliveau’s third-place score of 8.74 was enough to edge fellow countryman Phillipe Belanger, who scored 8.62. Belliveau jumped over the rail and executed a difficult switch backflip followed by a switch front that impressed the judges.
“We were looking for cleanness, a variety, hitting all the jumps and everything real clean, and next would be difficulty, so down to the final
jump it was really close between Vincent Dorion and Jonny Moseley,” said
judge Shannon Schad of Breckenridge. “Jonny got it, he had a little higher difficulty at the end. His whole run might not have been quite as clean but his difficulty was a lot higher, so he ended up taking it by a couple hundredths of a point.”
Schad, sidelined with an injury Saturday but who did compete in last year’s slopestyle event, said this year’s competitors have made difficult tricks look easy.
“The progression in the last year is just outrageous, since the summer to now, actually in the last two months. It’s crazy,” he said. “People now are throwing 900’s, 1080 misty flips, where last year misty flips was a real hard trick, now tons of people are doing it.”
Rounding out the top-10 finishers Saturday were Sweden’s Henrik Windstedt in fifth place, followed by Adam Delorma, Evan Raps, Luis Larose, J.F. Cusson and Eric Pollard. Pollard crashed off the quarter hit during his
final run and suffered a mild concussion.
Though he emerged with the win, Moseley said any one of the 30 competitors taking part Saturday could have risen to the top.
“Everyone did sick stuff out there. That’s how it always is,” he said. “You can’t judge these contests. Judging these contests is so subjective. If you look from 12th place up, or even from 20th, it’s guys like J.P. (Auclair) and J.F. (Cusson) who invented half of these tricks.
Competitions aren’t always an indicator of who’s rad, who’s good and who’s
Woods nails big air
GOLDEN PEAK – Andrew Woods from Vermont’s Sugarbush ski resort nailed five successful 1260’s Saturday night to win the U.S. Freeskiing Open Big Air
Jon Olsson was second and Jonny Moseley took third for his second podium
finish of the day in the event, which is sponsored by Freeze magazine.
“I had no idea how I would do,” Woods, 18, said. “I had never landed the
trick before, but I just kept trying it.”
Woods is a competitive mogul skier, currently ranked 23rd in the nation,
but is relatively new to the free-skiing scene.
“Not only did he throw a sick trick, but he did it five times in a row,”
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