Laax Open 2022 | Recap

Get the lowdown from last weekend's Laax Open, the last FIS Snowboard World Cup before the Olympic Games

Above Stale Sandbech. Photo: Stella Pentti.

With the Winter Olympics just around the corner, last weekend’s Laax Open was the final chance for the riders to prove that they have what it takes to secure their spot on their nations Olympic team.

“With the Winter Olympics just around the corner, last weekend’s Laax Open was the final chance for the riders to prove that they have what it takes to secure their spot on their nations Olympic team”

With January usually delivering a massive dump of snow just in time for the opening, this year we had top conditions through the whole week with blue skies the perfect amount of minus degrees to keep the Slopestyle course and halfpipe in shape.

The first contests went down on Thursday with the men’s Slopestyle qualifications, followed by both the men’s and women’s halfpipe semi-finals. On Friday we watched the men and women competing for a spot in Saturday’s Slopestyle finals.

Marcus Kleveland. Photo: Stella Pentti.

The Slopestyle finals kicked off at mid-day on Saturday with Australian style queen Tess Coady taking home the win for the women and American youngster Sean Fitzsimmons grabbing home the gold for the men.

For her winning round, we saw Tess Coady leading off with a half-cab on to backside 360 out on the first rail. Coady then stomped a wallride to crippler on the pyramid box, into a frontside 180 butter to switch back 3 out on the butter mound, before hitting the jump line where she started out with a switch backside 900 weddle, and then onto the trick of the day as she stepped things up to a frontside double cork 1080 indy before finishing things off with a nice little backside air on the quarter pipe.

Annika Morgan. Photo: Stella Pentti.

Second place for the women went to Anna Gasser (AUT), as the living legend scored a 78.56 for a second run that included a cab double cork 900 weddle to backside dub 1080 melon combo through the kicker line.

Reira Iwabuchi. Photo: Stella Pentti.

Third place went to rising German star Annika Morgan. As one of the most stylish riders on the scene, she nearly matched Gasser with her cab double cork 900 weddle to flatspin backside 1080 melon combo on her second run, scoring a 76.61 and taking home her first career slopestyle World Cup podium.

Melissa Peperkamp. Photo: Stella Pentti.

Fresh off a 41st place finish in Mammoth just a week ago, Sean Fitzsimmons was determined to qualify for the US Olympic team. He started off his winning run with a backside 270 on to 270 out on the first down rail, into a boardslide underflip 630 tailgrab out on the pyramid rail, and then a slick frontside miller flip over the butter mound. Through the jump line Fitzsimons then went frontside triple cork 1440 weddle, into a backside triple cork 1440 weddle – both huge – before a beauty of a corked frontside 720 melon on the very tricky quarterpipe to earn himself a score of 80.91 and his maiden World Cup victory.

Second on the podium was Norwegian Stale Sandbech. His second run earned him a score of 80.43 – less than half a point back of Fitzsimons – with a rail line highlighted by a backside 180 on to cab 3 out that was the highest-scoring trick of the day on the down rail, and featured a huge cab 1260 stalefish to frontside 1440 indy combo through the jump line.

Niek van der Velden. Photo: Stella Pentti.

Third place was the second U.S. rider to score a career first with his performance in Laax. Jake Canter grabbed third place with a score of 74.76 for a run that included a half-cab on to nollie backside rodeo 540 out on the butter mound, and backside triple cork 1440 indy on the second jump.

Matty Cox. Photo: Stella Pentti.

The highlight of the LAAX OPEN 2022 was the Superpipe night finale under floodlights. The start list was full of superstars, but the spotlight was undoubtedly on Shaun White here.

Earlier this season the 35-year-old announced that if he managed to land a spot on the USA Olympic team, this would mark the end of his professional career in snowboarding.

Shaun White. Photo: Stella Pentti.

Prior to this weekend, Shaun hadn’t yet secured his spot on the Olympic Halfpipe team and had to score higher than his fellow teammates to make it out to compete at his 5th Olympic Games. And, with the crowd cheering him on, Shaun White placed third on the podium above his US teammates with a score of 84.00.

Jan Scherrer. Photo: Stella Pentti.

Shaun kicked off his run with a frontside double cork 1080 stalefish, into a cab dub 1080 stalefish, then his iconic “Skyhook” aka frontside 540 stalefish, then a backside dub 1260 weddle, and finally a fronstide dub 1260 stalefish to finish things off – all launched as high as to the moon.

Ruka Hirano. Photo: Stella Pentti.

Second place for the men went to Switzerland’s own Jan Scherrer, who came through with a second run that featured a frontside dub 1440 indy to cab dub 1080 weddle combo in the middle of the run, and alley-oop frontside 900 nose grab to finish things off for a score of 90.00 and his first career Laax podium.

Joshua Bowman. Photo: Stella Pentti.

But it was Japanese Ayumu Hirano who took home the win. Leading things off with a frontside double cork 1440 indy that may have been the highest-boosted trick of the night, he then stomped an insanely clean cab dub 1440 weddle, then a frontside dub 1260 indy, then a backside dub 1260 weddle, and finally a frontside dub 1080 truck driver that would score him 93.25.

Chloe Kim. Photo: Stella Pentti.

As for the women, Chloe Kim showed us yet again what she is made off. In Saturday’s finals, Chloe lead off her first run with a boosted backside air, into an even bigger frontside 1080 tail, then a cab 900 melon, then a switch backside 540 weddle with an uncharacteristic wobble in the awkward axis, which she was then able to recover from quickly and launch a cab 1080 melon on her last hit for a score of 90.25.

Just as we saw last season in Laax, second place behind Kim was Japan’s Mitsuki Ono, as the talented 17-year-old put down what was likely the best run of her career, leading things off with a frontside 900 tail grab and throwing her own cab 1080 with a stalefish grab on her second-to-last hit for a score of 89.00 and her third career World Cup podium.

Castellet Queralt. Photo: Stella Pentti.

Third place for the women went to Spain’s Queralt Castellet – her fourth World Cup career podium in Laax. Riding with her typical hard-charging style, Castellet scored an 80.00 for a run that included an ultra-stylish cab 720 with a taipan grab and backside 900 weddle to frontside 900 melon combo to close things out.

Cai Xuetong. Photo: Stella Pentti.

Remember to tune in to the Winter Olympics with the snowboarding competition running from the 5th to the 15th of February.

*Original source for trick recap roundups FIS Snowboarding webiste

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