Last Friday’s slopestyle at Copper Mountain marked the start of an exciting year for competitive snowboarding as the world’s best battled it out to earn FIS points to help them qualify for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. If you were a little unclear as to the Olympic qualification process for slopestyle here’s a quick summary:
- Competitors earn FIS points by competing at FIS Olympic qualifying events between July 2012 and January 19th 2014.
- The top 3o men and the top 30 women will qualify for Olympic slopestyle.
- How many riders each country can send to each event depends on how many from each country are in the top 30 at the end of the qualification period, up to a maximum of four riders.
- Therefore, for all four of our male slopestyle contenders (Jamie Nicholls, Billy Morgan, Nate Kern, Sam Turnbull) and female contenders (Jenny Jones, Aimee Fuller and Katie Ormerod) to qualify, they must get as high as possible in the rankings by January 19th 2014.
Friday’s slopestyle competition at Copper Mountain was the first event in a series of five in various locations around the globe including Stonham, Canada; Sochi, Russia; Spindleruv, Czech Republic and Sierra Nevada, Spain. It was also the first event in history that was both a World Snowboard Tour five star event as well as an FIS event (and an Olympic qualifying one at that). This made it extra appealing for riders, as they could earn points for both their World Snowboard Tour ranking and FIS Olympic ranking. Without opening up the whole WST/FIS can of worms here lets just say that such joint tour events are exactly what the WST had hoped to encourage when appealing to the FIS for greater cooperation and involvement in the Olympic qualification process. What it boils down to for riders this year is that they will have to be very selective about which contests they enter – with riders perhaps being forced to focus their efforts on Olympic qualifying events at the possible expense of WST ones that conflict.
Seeing as this event was pretty much like getting double nectar points on a particular day at Sainsbury’s, the turnout at Copper was particularly high. The course was nice and straightforward and suitably challenging: up top there was a down rail or down box to choose from leading into a choice of either rad bus stop feature or light pole jam thing. After that it was straight into a triple kicker line so no surprises there. Riders were split into four heats in the qualification stages with the top four from each qualifying for the finals. Needless to say, many of the big guns made it through to the finals with Torstein Horgmo coming out on top. On the British side of things Nate Kern finished 29th in his group (114th overall), Sam Turnbull finished 23rd in his group (90th overall) and Jamie Nicholls ended up 11th in his group (33rd overall). Billy Morgan, possibly still buzzing from the first big international win of his career at this year’s London Freeze, totally bossed it, trumping some of the top slopestyle riders in the world with a staple backside rodeo, cab nine double and back twelve double (check out the video here) to finish up 2nd in his group and easily make it through to the finals (at that stage he was 4th overall).
In the ladies slopestyle the conditions were extra challenging with poor light and some light snow flurries that made the course slow – so slow in fact that the last jump had to be closed. 64 riders were cut down to just eight over two heats. Jenny Jones and Aimee Fuller were both drawn in the same heat but unfortunately neither was able to put down a solid enough run to see them through to the finals. Jenny finished up in 16th (28th overall) while Aimee placed 24th (49th overall). Katie Ormerod rode with a maturity way beyond her short fifteen years and posted a fantastic result coming in 21st in the second heat (43rd overall). Although none of our ladies made it through to the finals this time around we have high hopes for them over the next few events and we’re confident they’re gonna smash it!
So it was swiftly on to the finals with the each rider having two runs with their best one counting. The Euros were riding impressively with Seppe Smits, Peetu Piiroinen and Roope Tonteri all double corking and flat-spinning like mad-men and stomping everything. Top qualifier Torstein Horgmo wasn’t able to put down a solid run and slopestyle destroyer Mark Mcmorris and recent Air and Style champion Yuki Kadono also weren’t able to stick their runs when they counted most. Ultimately it was slopestyle veteren Chas Guldemond with his powerful, consistent stocky riding (and a cab double cork 1260 into a backside double cork 1260 – quite a combo we might add) who impressed the judges enough to take first place. Finnish ripper Roope Tonteri did enough for second with a run that included a backside 1260 and a cab 10 while Peetu Piiroinen showed that he is still one of the most well-rounded and capable competitive snowboarders out there coming in third with a huge backside 1080 mute on the final kicker.
But let’s not forget Billy Morgan – after a less than perfect first run Billy stepped up in the second run and stomped an absolute corker that bumped him from 8th to 4th with only a handful of riders still to drop. When it all wrapped up and the dust settled our Billy was in 5th place – FIFTH! – ahead of some of the biggest names in the game. What a result and we couldn’t have hoped for a better start for Billy.
On the women’s side of things Jamie Anderson was once again dominant and there is no question in our minds that she’ll be the one to beat at Sochi. Her run consisted of a backside 360, backside 540 and switch backside 180 on the triple line. Rounding out the podium was Norwegian ripper Kjersti Buass and Isabel Derungs who stomped a variety of 360’s and 540’s and both killed it. As we mentioned earlier we know that British female riders have the potential to be on these podiums and hope that they can put down their run at the next Olympic slopestyle event in Stoneham, Canada this coming weekend.
US GRAND PRIX SLOPESTYLE 2013 COPPER RESULTS
1. Chas Guldemond (USA)
2. Roope Tonteri (FIN)
3. Peetu Piiroinen (FIN)
1. Jamie Anderson (USA)
2. Kjersti Buass (NOR)
3. Isabel Derungs (SUI)