The highly anticipated battle in the men’s ski field lived up to expectations as they took on the challenge of The Cirque with its many difficult features and steeps. Lars Chickerin-Ayers of the U.S. claimed the Kirkwood title with his smooth navigation of the extremely jagged and rocky top section and powerful push through a challenging chute on the bottom looker’s right side. Following the leader was Julien Lopez of France who performed a huge back flip along with a number of other unique airs. Charlie Lyons of New Zealand claimed the third spot on the podium with a fun-filled run including big air off the top and several other jumps throughout his performance.
“I wasn’t really planning to win here,” claimed Chickering-Ayers. “I just came out to spend time with family and have fun. I have skied these types of conditions in competition in the past and knew how to deal with them. The skiing was my favorite part of the day.”
Lopez now moved to the 3rd spot in the overall tour rankings with his solid second place finish behind leader Drew Tabke and Jérémie Heitz.
The men’s snowboarding division had the toughest conditions of the day as the afternoon brought less sunshine and more firmer and settled snow than earlier in the day. However, the wild card, Ryland Bell of Squaw Valley, chose a unique line down the backside that earned him the top spot. Bell featured several spins in his run including a backside 360, a frontside 360, and another backside 360 with a grab that gave him extra style points from the judges.
“This was my first win ever,” exclaimed a stoked Bell. “My stoke level is really high. I wanted to do tricks, try to flow, and have fun.”
Fellow Squaw Valley competitor, Sammy Luebke, slid into the second spot with his run that featured a Method Air in combination with high speeds through the middle rocks and other airs along the way. The last spot on the podium was snatched by Emilien Badoux of Switzerland who pulled out a well-executed rodeo 540 near the bottom to complement his consistency throughout the run.
Despite his sixth place finish today, Ralph Backstrom still maintains the top spot on the leaderboard followed by Sammy Luebke and Emilien Badoux.
The women’s ski competition brought just as much excitement with crowd favorite, Jackie Paaso, securing the top spot. Paaso featured a number of airs that complemented her exemplary poise and smart maneuvers through the technical sections of The Cirque.
Pia Nic Gundersen of Norway grabbed the second spot on the podium by staying on her feet through a series of airs and cleanly navigating through the narrow tree section. The last spot on the podium belonged to Ashley Maxfield who had great air throughout her run.
“I have had a number of crashes this season and really needed to win. It feels great to come out on top,” said and ecstatic Paaso. “I took my run down a notch this time because I needed to stay on my feet. Making it to the finish line was the best part for me.”
The overall leader board is currently led by Nadine Wallner followed by Pia Nic Gundersen and Christine Hargin.
Margot Rozies of France has come up just short of the top spot in her past two events, but finally traded in her second place finishes for first as she landed the top spot on the podium in Kirkwood. Rozies had an incredible run that featured speed along with smooth links through technical turns.
“I felt a bit sick today actually, but think that removed some of the pressure,” stated Rozies. “I woke up this morning and considered not competing actually. However, I managed to get myself pumped for competition. It couldn’t have gone any better.”
Elodie Mouthon linked two airs at the top section of her run and carved a unique line to the bottom of the run that earned her the second spot on the podium. Shannon Yates rounded out the podium with her strategic line choice.
With her win in Kirkwood, Margot Rozies now leads the female snowboarders’ overall rankings with Elodie Mouthon and Laura Dewey rounding out the top three.