By Steven Sandor, The Canadian Press on December 9, 2023.
EDMONTON – New Zealand’s Zoi Sadowski-Synnott and Japan’s Taiga Hasegawa won gold medals at the FIS World Cup Big Air Snowboard event Saturday night at Commonwealth Stadium.
Hasegawa hit all three of his tricks, all five-rotation 1800s, to win the event. China’s Su Yiming, winner of gold in Big Air at the 2022 Olympics, finished second. After taking a year off, American Redmond Gerard returned to World Cup competition in Edmonton and collected the bronze.
Nicolas Laframboise of Saint Jean, Que., was the top men’s finisher in qualifying, but finished sixth. He wowed the crowd in 2022 when he earned bronze, while wearing a blue Edmonton Oilers alternate jersey while he completed his tricks. This year, he added a bright orange Oilers helmet to the wardrobe.
And he put on a show – he began his first run by coming to a stop 20 feet out of the gate. He raised his arms, urging the crowd to make more noise. Laframboise resumed his run and nailed a triple-backside-flip.
He landed his second jump, a backside 1620. But he lost out on the podium when he failed to hit his third trick.
Liam Brearley of Granvenhust, Ont., took a heavy fall in his third jump and finished seventh.
Sadowski-Synnott won a women’s competition that was plagued with missed tricks. Only 10 of 24 attempted jumps were completed successfully. She finished ahead of Great Britain’s Mia Brookes and Anna Gasser, the Austrian who has won gold medals in Big Air at the previous two Olympic Games.
Sadowski-Synnott scored a whopping 99 in qualifying with a switchback 1260 jump in qualifying, but fell when she attempted that trick with her first jump of the finals. She tried it again with her second run, scored a whopping 97.25 and never looked back.
It was a disappointing night for the Canadians. Jasmine Baird of Georgetown, Ont., won this event in 2022, but she fell on her second and third attempts and had to settle for seventh.
Quebec City’s Laurie Blouin fell on each of her three jumps and finished eighth.
Australian Valentino Guseli, who won the 2022-23 men’s overall World Cup Big Air title, failed to land two of three jumps in the semifinals and didn’t make it to Saturday night’s final.
After 13 of 21 female competitors pulled out in 2022 because they couldn’t gather enough speed to get the airtime needed to complete their tricks, organizers made major changes to the course.
This year riders plunged down a 15-storey ramp that extended 100 feet above the top row of the top deck of Commonwealth Stadium. That ramp was two storeys longer than it was in 2022.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 9, 2023.