Sweden and Norway on fire, Henrik Harlaut in the house and bad times for the French team… here’s the recap from yesterdays’s qualifications at the FIS Freeski World Cup Slopestyle in Font-Romeu, France.
The weather was on point on Thursday, January 9, 2020 at the Font-Romeu ski resort in the French Pyrenees, with the sun shining bright for the men’s qualifying round. Read on for the day’s highlights.
Photo: Charlotte Bartczak
Sweden and Norway pile into the finals
It’s no secret that these two teams are loaded with heavy hitters, and they’re not shy about letting it be known. The Swedish and Norwegian teams both cleaned up in the men’s qualifications. Between Øystein Bråten (80.20 points), Oliwer Magnusson (79.25 pts) and Oscar Wester (78.80 pts), who claimed the third, fifth and sixth places in the first heat, and Birk Ruud (82.90 pts), Christian Nummedal (80.65 pts), Henrik Harlaut (79.30 pts) and Jesper Tjäder (76.85 pts), who swept the top four spots in the second heat, it’s crystal clear that the Scandinavians didn’t come to Font-Romeu to waste their time with trifles. We can expect a big showdown between these two teams on Saturday.
Jesper Tjäder on his way to the finals. Photo: Widovitch
Henrik Harlaut the showman
Speaking of Sweden… the living legend of freestyle skiing, Henrik Harlaut made an impressive showing this afternoon. It’s been several days now that we’ve seen him hanging around in the park, throwing crazy trick after crazy trick. His video of some insane buttering on the knuckles in the jump line has already gone viral in the ski community.
In brief, Henrik set this course on fire, claiming third place in his heat with 79.30 points on his first run. This left him free to play around on his second run, a chance he promptly used to put on a show with a magnificent butter on the knuckle of the third kicker. It was, in short, legendary—and brings up a salient point: why don’t judges give equal weight to tricks on the knuckle?
Hard times for the French team
Today was a major blow for the hosting French team. To earn a spot in the finals, you had to fight your way into the top eight in your heat of 25 riders… and none of them succeeded.
The day went from bad to worse for Team France. During the first run of the first heat, every one of the French competitors crashed, leaving the door open for the rest of the field. Some managed to save face on their second run, like Nathan Harbonnier, who scored 65 points during a perfectly executed and impeccably clean run—but in a meager 17th place, not nearly good enough for the finals.
Things didn’t improve any in the afternoon’s second heat, as the soft snow and increasingly chopped landings got the better of the seven French riders in the heat. All of them fell in at least one of their runs; Tim Savignon managed 63.55 points, Ben Burratti 63.25, Hugo Laugier 48.15… and Antoine Adelisse, who fell on both his runs, finished last with the catastrophic score of 19.70. Needless to say, none of them will be seeing the finals.
The event’s hometown hero, Vince Maharavo, was also unable to pass the threshold for the finals. On his first run he fell on the second kicker, which didn’t prevent him from trying again on his second run… in vain. Despite a very big run through the kickers, he ended getting caught up in the rail section, where he couldn’t muster enough points to break into the top 8. He ended in 12th with a score of 64.25.
In short, it was a slaughter for the French side.
Who made the finals?
Here are the 16 finalists who will fight for the podium on Saturday. Stay tuned!
Andri Ragettli (SUI, 84.70 pts)
Tyler Harding (GBR, 82.15 pts)
Øystein Bråten (NOR, 80.20 pts)
Deven Fagan (USA, 79.35 pts)
Oliwer Magnusson (SWE, 79,25 pts)
Oscar Wester (SWE, 78.80 pts)
Kim Gubser (SUI, 78.20 pts)
Cody Laplante (USA, 75.90 pts)
Birk Ruud (NOR, 82.90 pts)
Christian Nummedal (NOR, 80.65 pts)
Henrik Harlaut (SWE, 79.30 pts)
Jesper Tjäder (SWE, 76.85 pts)
Thibault Magnin (ESP, 76.00 pts)
Fabian Bösch (SUI, 74.75 pts)
Mark Hendrickson (CAN, 74.40 pts)
Hunter Henderson (USA, 73.95 pts)