Over the past decade, the World Cup slopestyle in Corvatsch, Switzerland has established itself as one of the best events of the year, as well as the traditional end of the contest season. This year Corvatsch once again delivered a top-notch slopestyle showdown.
It's been a low-snow year in the Swiss Alps. Photo: Stadler
The course in Corvatsch Park was in fine form as always, with two rail tiers leading into a 3-jump line with some of the largest booters seen in slopestyle. At the bottom, the team around Corvatsch head shaper Kobi Würsch had a surprise in store for the competitors: a shortened halfpipe with enough room for two hits, if you worked hard for them. This feature provided an interesting challenge, demanding transition skills that usually aren’t in play in slopestyle.
This short-but-stocky halfpipe at the bottom of the slope course provided a unique challenge for the field. Photo: Furger
After qualifications on Thursday reduced the field to 10 women and 16 men, the finals followed on Saturday, March 25. Cloudy weather the day before had forced a delay of the men’s snowboard qualifications, meaning that ski finals were moved up to start at 9:30am. Although the weather remained touch-and-go, the sun popped out just in time for the contest, making for perfectly acceptable contest conditions: a bit icy, a bit windy, but with good visibility.
Facing some of the biggest jumps of the contest circuit, many women dialed back their runs, opting for safety tricks and single corks instead of doubles. The notable exception was Megan Oldham, whose top qualifying run featured not one, but two doubles.
Giulia Tanno led the field after the first run after landing a left 270 on and a front 450 out in the rail section, followed by a right cork 900 tail, a switch left 540 safety and a left cork 720 tail in the jumps. At 88.25, her score seemed a touch high for 540s and 720s. Even so, it was a strong performance for Giulia, who’s battled injuries in recent years and has been working hard on her comeback.
Giulia even stepped up her run on Run 2, tossing a clean double cork 1080 safety on the final jump. But her score didn’t improve due to imperfections elsewhere, and she was soon bumped off the podium by a pack of solid runs from the likes of Sarah Hoefflin, Johanne Killi and Tess Ledeux.
It was a good day for the Swiss women, with Giulia Tanno in fourth and Sarah Hoefflin in second. Photo: Stadler
This year’s overall slopestyle champion, Johanne Killi once again demonstrated her cool, consistent contest demeanor. After one of the cleanest rail sections of the women’s contest—a back swap, front 270 out and a switch right 270 on, continuing 270 out—she added a right cork 900 blunt, switch left 720 safety and a switch left 540 japan in the jumps, as well as a flair in the pipe. Although she dialed back the difficulty after crashing on a switch 1080 attempt in her first run, Johanne’s flawless, casual style was more than good enough for a third-place finish.
Sarah Hoefflin’s run featured one of the biggest rail tricks in the women’s field, a ballsy switch 270 disaster transfer on the first down rail that left other competitors, men and women alike, roaring in approval. After crashing on her first run, Sarah held on to a wild jump run on her second try, stomping a right 540 mute, a huge left 720 safety and finally a switch right double 1080 mute. Her effort was rewarded with second place.
The gold medal, though, went to none other than Tess Ledeux. After bobbling in the rails on her first try, Tess delivered under pressure on her second: back swap, front 270 out into a switch right 270 on to forward in the rails, followed by her flawless left double 1260 mute, a switch left 720 safety and a switch right bio 900 safety, capped off with a clean straight air tail grab in the halfpipe. 93.25, into first place and rightly so.
The woman with arguably the best run on this course, top qualifier Megan Oldham sadly missed the podium. She stomped her monstrous jump line with authority—left double 1080 mute, right 900 tail, switch left double 900 japan—sending each hit deep into the landing. But she bobbled on the second rail in both runs, mistakes that kept her score in the mid 80s.
Some shoutouts to other competitors: Anni Karava (7th place) kept her stylish approach on display with the cleanest switch 900 tail of the contest. Grace Henderson (8th place) had trouble in the rails, but put down flawless mirrored cork 720 blunts to the left and right.
The women's podium. Photo: Stadler
In comparison to the women’s final, the men’s contest was wildly unpredictable, with wind and visibility playing a role, and seemingly inconsistent judging adding an element of randomness. All that aside, a half-dozen huge runs were landed, any of which might have ended up on the podium.
Nine years after his first World Cup win here, Jesper Tjäder found himself back atop the podium in Corvatsch. It was a fitting end to a contest season that was something of a renaissance for Jesper, who after years of chronic underscoring, is now finally getting his due.
“My last World Cup win was here in Silvaplana nine years ago,” Jesper said. “It’s pretty crazy to be back on the top spot. I just wanted to land the run that I did today, and getting first place was just a bonus. I’m super stoked.”
Need a pretzeled double? Jesper's the man to call—his switch double 900 bringback to 720 is on lock. Photo: Stadler
Jesper’s run: Switch left 270 on, front 450 out of the unbow rail; right 450 on, back 630 out of the tube; right double cork 1620 tail, switch left double cork 900 japan bringback to 720, and an amazing switch right double cork 1620 mute, with a left cork 900 safety in the halfpipe to round things out.
Second place went to Evan McEachran, who landed a right nosebutter 450 to switch and a switch left 270, back swap, front 450 out in the top rail section before rolling into a left double cork 1620 lead japan, switch right 1800 safety and a switch left 1260 stale to japan. In the halfpipe, he floated a lofty right cork 720 hook.
Evan’s response when I double-checked whether his last jump trick was a 12 or a 16: “Just a 12 on the last jump. Too much spinning on top, had to do one trick that looks nice.”
Birk Ruud's double flair was the biggest trick in the pipe during men's finals. Photo: Stadler
Birk Ruud locked down third place, ending an incredible season that saw him on the podium in just about every contest he entered. Birk laced a left 270 on, front swap, pretzel 270 out and an unconventional switch right 270 on, pretzel cork 630 out in the rails. In the jumps, he served up a switch right 1440 safety, a switch left double cork 1620 tail, and a left double bio 1440 mute, ending his run with a massive double flair safety in the halfpipe, the biggest air of the day on that feature.
2023 Corvatsch World Cup Slopestyle men's podium. Photo: Stadler
Judging is always a point of contention, but at this contest some of the calls seemed extra flagrant. Some mistakes were clear: In the first run, Mark Hendrickson clearly missed the grab on his cork 900 in the pipe, but was given a 90, while New Zealand rookie Luca Harrington missed japan on a switch double 1620, but was scored a whopping 92 points. Correct me if I’m wrong, but a run with a missed grab should never score in the 90s.
Less clearly flagrant, but no less vexing, was the scoring of Alex Hall’s second run, which he landed about as clean as can be with clean, stylish rails, two different double cork 1440s and a right cork 720 bringback to 540 that was a thing of beauty. Alex could have spun to win, but opted instead for an extremely difficult bringback trick that was not as rewarded by the judges as it might have been.
V Morel: style on point. Photo: Stone
Other shoutouts: Valentin Morel stuck to his guns with a beautiful style run that unfortunately scored only in the 60s. Maybe he missed a grab that I didn’t notice, but his score seemed about 20 points shorter than it could have been. Andreas Herranz took a massive slam on his first run, going huge and overrotating a 16. He didn’t return for his second run—hope you’re all good man! Colby Stevenson, Mark Hendrickson, Mac Forehand, Konnor Ralph and Luca Harrington all also delivered big runs, but didn’t make it onto this highly contested podium.
All in all, it was a fitting wrap-up for a busy contest season—a day of huge runs, lots of hits and a few misses.