Weather cancels big air competition at Park City World Championships; Arielle Gold qualifies for halfpipe final
February 7, 2019
It's been a slow start for Summit County athletes out at this week's 2019 International Ski & Snowboard Federation Freestyle Skiing and Snowboard World Championships in Park City, Utah, as Tuesday's heavy snowstorm canceled a major primetime competition.
As a result, Summit County snowboarders Chris Corning, Red Gerard and the rest of the world's best won't get the opportunity to compete in the snowboard big air competition at any point this week. The World Championships organizers said the competition was canceled because on the weather forecast, with the best interests of the athletes in mind and considering the schedule of the remaining events slated to take place. The snowboard big air finals were due to go live at Park City Mountain's Canyons Village on Tuesday evening.
"We looked in detail at every option open to us," said Calum Clark, the chairman of the World Championships' organizing committe, "but the Organizing Committee agreed unanimously that the safety of the athletes taking part in the competition is our primary concern, as is the smooth running of the rest of the schedule. Despite this news, we have five more days of incredible action to look forward to, and many more World Champions to crown."
The cancellation news was a bummer for Corning, who was looking forward to competing for a podium spot in big air after he reaggravated a foot injury during last month's big air competition at the Winter X Games in Aspen. The foot injury also forced the 19-year-old Silverthorne resident out of the X Games slopestyle competition.
Speaking from Park City, Corning said he anticipated the big air competition would be canceled once he arrived and saw the amount of snowfall Park City was receiving.
"It gives me time for my foot to keep healing, which is good," Corning said.
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Corning was slated to drop into the big air course along with a laundry list of the world's best big air and slopestyle snowboarders. The men's field entry list featured such names as the Summit County 18-year-old slopestyle Olympic gold medalist Gerard, Canadian star and X Games slopestyle champ Mark McMorris and Japanese teen phenom and X Games big air champion Takeru Otsuka. Others included accomplished international stars such as Mons Rosiland of Norway, Sven Thorgren of Sweden, Rene Rinnekangas of Finland, Seppe Smits of Belgium, Darcy Sharpe of Canada, Clemens Millauer of Austria, Yuri Okubo of Japan and Moritz Thoenen of Switzerland.
Many of those same snowboarders, including Corning and Gerard, are expected to compete in the World Championships' men's snowboard slopestyle competition, which is currently scheduled for Sunday at 11 a.m. MST, at Park City Mountain. The current forecast for Park City on Sunday is partly cloudy.
Steamboat Springs native and Breckenridge resident Arielle Gold was a top qualifier from Wednesday's women's halfpipe qualifying round through to Friday morning's finals. Gold's score of 86.50 on the pipe at Park City Mountain placed her only behind dominant American rider and her fellow 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic medalist Chloe Kim of California, who scored a 90.50.
The Olympic gold medalist Kim and the 2018 Olympic halfpipe bronze medalist Gold will be joined in Friday's halfpipe final (11 a.m., NBC Sports Network) by a group of eight finalists that includes China's Xuetong Cai (third place, 85.75), Switzerland's Verena Rohrer (fourth, 81.25) and Californian Maddie Mastro (fifth, 77.50)
In the men's qualifying round, Dillon snowboarder Chase Blackwell was unable to qualify on Wednesday afternoon out of a loaded field of dozens of the world's best snowboarders.
Blackwell didn't execute a full pull on his two runs down the halfpipe on Wednesday, finishing with a high score of 28.75.
The sole American rider to qualify through to Friday's halfpipe final (11 a.m., NBC Sports Network) was Californian teen Toby Miller, who did so in eighth place, with a score of 72.25. The top three qualifiers through to the men's halfpipe final were Japan's Yuto Totsuka (86.50), Switzerland's Patrick Burgener (83.75) and last month's X Games champion, Australian star Scotty James (80.75).