The 2023/24 FIS World Cup Freeskiing circuit is off to a rocky start, as the second contest in a row was cut short by weather conditions that forced the cancellation of the finals. As at last month’s BIG AIR CHUR, the qualification results were taken as the final scores at this week's slopestyle on the Stubai Glacier.
Two skiers may have claimed gold medals, but the wind was definitely the ruler in Stubai this weekend.
This result once again played out in favor of Mathilde Gremaud, who, as in Chur, was able to claim a World Cup gold medal without even dropping in for a final run. On the men’s side, Evan McEachran took the gold with a dominant performance in the qualis and a score three points ahead of the nearest competitor. It's his first World Cup win after ten years on the circuit.
Tess Ledeux and Ruby Star Andrews rounded out the women’s podium, while American duo Mac Forehand and Alex Hall completed the men’s top three.
The compact slopestyle course on Stubai´s Gaisskarferner has played host to World Cup contests since 2017.
Gremaud’s winning run included a left double cork 1080 safety into a right bio 900 safety in the jumps, followed by a frontside 630 mute out and a pair of 270s on in the rail section.
Tess Ledeux put down back-to-back left and rightside double cork 1080s, a combo that will certainly make her a slopestyle threat this season. And Ruby Star Andrews was able to claim her second World Cup podium in only five starts, a promising result for the 18-year-old from New Zealand.
Tess Ledeux on her way to second place with back-to-back double corks.
In the men’s field, Evan McEachran claimed his first-ever World Cup victory in ten years of trying. McEachran kicked off his run with a switch right double cork 1800 safety into a switch left double cork 1440 mute. He backed that up with a switch on, bio 810 safety out, a front swap to back swap, and a 360 swap to 270 out in the rails.
“It feels incredible to finally get on top at a World Cup,” McEachran told Downdays. “Ideally we would have been able to get out there today and get after it again, but at least the weather was on our side for the quali.”
“We had seen some grim weather in the forecast for Friday and Saturday, so I knew that the quali results could maybe stand in the end,” he added. “That being said, I decided to risk it and go for a run that I wouldn’t usually do in a qualifier, and I’m definitely glad I made that decision now.”
Persistence pays off: Evan McEachran started skiing World Cups in 2012. In 2023 he won his first one.
Forehand put down a switch left double cork 1620 cuban and a right double cork 900 in the jumps, followed by a cork 810 blunt out, a disaster 450 on, and a switch 270 on, 270 out.
Alex Hall’s third place run was without question the most creative of the day. He laced his signature rightside double cork 1080 bringback to 900 into a switch left tail butter 1260 mute in the jumps, and delivered a 360 swap to 270 out and a switch 270 on, pretzel 270 out in the rails.
Valentin Morel is known for slopping style around slopestyle courses.
With a storm brewing in the forecast, organizers moved up the qualifiers from Friday to Thursday, and hoped to pull off the finals on Friday. However, a windstorm put an end to that plan, with such high wind on Friday that the ski resort remained closed for the day.
“Due to the extreme wind conditions and the predicted heavy snowfall over the next 48 hours, the Stubai World Cup Organizing Committee and the judges have made the unfortunate decision to cancel the final in the interest of athlete safety,” said Ritchie Date, the FIS Contest Director.
While it’s always a letdown when a finals gets cancelled, we can be glad in this circumstance that the organizers aren’t forcing competitors to drop in during a windstorm.
The World Cup slopestyle circuit continues with its next stop in Laax, Switzerland on 17–21 January, 204.
When is a rail actually a jump? When it´s the third feature in a Stubai slopestyle course. Kim Gubser demonstrates.
For complete results, visit fis-ski.com.