Chris Corning qualifies to join Red Gerard in X Games snowboard slopestyle final |

Chris Corning qualifies to join Red Gerard in X Games snowboard slopestyle final

Chris Corning of Silverthorne smiles at Winter X Games Aspen at Buttermilk Mountain in Aspen on Friday. Corning qualified through to today's snowboard slopestyle final round with a score of 89.00.
Anna Stonehouse, Aspen Times

Summit County riders Chris Corning and Red Gerard will compete in Saturday’s Winter X Games Aspen men’s snowboard slopestyle finals (ABC, 1 p.m. MST) after Corning qualified out of Friday’s elimination round.

The elimination round was jam-packed with 16 riders, only seven of whom would qualify for the final round. Gerard did not have to compete in the elimination round. That’s because after last year’s X Games gold medal winner Marcus Kleveland was forced out of the event due to a shattered kneecap he suffered at Dew Tour at Breckenridge Ski Resort last month, Gerard bumped up to a top-3 results position carried over from last year’s X Games slopestyle competition. Gerard finished fourth at last year’s event. Gerard was also joined by Canadian star riders Darcy Sharpe and Mark McMorris as riders who pre-qualified for Saturday’s finals.

As such, the only two Summit County snowboarders to compete on Friday were Silverthorne residents Chris Corning and Kyle Mack, who originally hails from West Bloomfield, Michigan.

Corning was the last of the 16 riders to drop into the slopestyle course, giving him a bit of an edge. He quickly set himself up for qualifying when he earned a score of 89.00 on his first run. That ended up being the third-highest scoring run of the qualifying round.

The 19-year-old Corning qualified on the strength of a rail section that began with a 50-50 switch-up to a switch back 360 out. On the second rail feature, Corning landed a cab 180 on to a back 360 off. Then, on the third rail, Corning executed a front-side 270 on the tear drop rail. On the fourth and final rail, Corning landed a 50-50 backside on before rodeo flipping out and into the jumps portion of the course.

In that jumps portion, Corning executed a switch front-side, flat-spin 1260 on the first jump, a move that requires three-and-a-half horizontal rotations. On the second jump, Corning landed a back-side flat-spin 1080 with a truck driver grab, which means he grabbed his snowboard with both hands. Then on the third and final jump, Corning landed a front-side, triple-cork 1440 with a melon grab, a move that requires him to invert three times on his vertical axis while rotating for four full 360-degree horizontal rotations.

As for Saturday’s slopestyle final, X Games announcers on the television broadcast teased Corning may attempt his groundbreaking quad-cork 1800 on the final slopestyle jump. The move requires Corning to rotate four times on his vertical axis while rotating for five, full 360-degree rotations.

Corning is the only American to ever land it in competition, just once prior, at a big air event in Cardrona, New Zealand in September. It’d be Corning’s first time landing the trick in a slopestyle competition.

Mack had less success on Friday a day after he dropped out of the big air competition due to a lingering knee injury he suffered while filming his snowboarding in the street. After Mack executed a solid rail section on his first run, he couldn’t get around a front-side 1080, falling to the snow.

Then on his second and final run, Mack executed a stylish rail run that featured a cab 270 pull-back on the third rail and a tap-back 180 on the fourth rail. On the jumps, he landed a switch Back 900 switch tail grab, a front-side 1080 and then went huge on a back-side 1080. The judges scored it a 52.33, good enough for 12th place but well below the cutoff mark of 79.01 to qualify for finals.

Gerard, McMorris, Sharpe and Corning will be joined in the finals by six other riders. The top qualifier from Friday was Canadian star Sebastien Toutant, who earned a 92.66, followed by Swedish rider Sven Thorgren with a 90.00.

Below Corning, other qualifiers included stylish Finish rider Rene Rinnekangas (87.33), Japanese daredevil Yuki Kadono (83.33), young American up-and-comer Judd Henkes (80.66) and Canadian rider Mikey Ciccarelli (79.00).

There was a strong group of elite riders who failed to make it out of Friday’s elimination round, including Norway’s Mons Roisland (67.00), stylish Steamboat Springs rider Nik Baden (43.33), last month’s Dew Tour slopestyle champion, in Norwegian star Stale Sandbech (38.66), and 17-year-old Japanese phenom Takeru Otsuka (34.66).

Saturday’s slopestyle final round is scheduled for 1 p.m. MST and will be broadcast live on ABC.

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