Wiig whirls his way to Session title
VAIL – The long wait is over for Andreas Wiig. After taking second place at the Honda Session the previous two years, Wiig came up on top in Saturday’s slopestyle.”I finally got the big one,” Wiig said. “It feels really good.”David Benedek grabbed second, six places better than he finished last year, while Chas Guldemond was third. Wiig wasted little time claiming his stake in the hour and a half event, pulling off the second-best run of the night on his first pass down the four-jump course. After starting things out with a backside rodeo 900, Wiig moved into a switch cab 1080, followed with a switch backside 900 and finished the jumps with frontside 1080, and then hit a few rails at the base of the course. The judges gave Wiig a 91.0, which would have held up as the winning run, but the Norwegian snowboarder one-upped himself.”I felt like I had a good run,” Wiig said of his first pass. “But I thought my score should have been a bit higher, but maybe it was because of my rails, so I did it the run again later, and did the rails better.”On his second-to-last run, Wiig started with a backside rodeo 1080, kept the other jumps the same, then added a frontside boardslide on the arched box and entered a downward box with a cab 270, and exited with another 270.”It was one of the smoothest runs in a while,” said Wiig, who was awarded 93 points for his efforts.
Benedek, who stood in second place from his first run on, nearly moved into first on a giant trick that he’s only pulled twice before.Following a switch backside 900, a backside 900 with a tailgrab and a cab 900 shift, Benedek spun vertically and horizontally, pulling off a double cork 1260. Benedek didn’t nail the landing, but he was excited with the outcome. “The jump wasn’t very steep, so I didn’t know if it would actually work,” Benedek said. “It was a great relief that I got around, even though I didn’t land it perfectly.”Before the run, Benedek contemplated his move.”I was really scared to try it, but I kind of gave myself a bet and said, ‘If I get the first three jumps, I’ll try it no matter what,'” Benedek said.
Benedek’s score of 90.7 put him .3 off of Wiig’s mark at the time.”I thought I should just stop and chill because I’m not going to do much better, but then I saw I was so close to Andreas, and that if I landed it, I could maybe take him, so I tried it again.”Later in the evening, Benedek launched the double cork 1260, and stuck the landing. The rest of his run wasn’t enough to put him over the top, however.
Not much was flowing for Guldemond all night, until he earned his on the podium with his final run.”I didn’t land my first five runs,” Guldemond said. “Finally, I made it. I’m so stoked. I’ve never felt so good in my life.”Guldemond began his run pulling a cab 720 with a nosegrab, moved into a cab 1080, then a switch backside 540, and finished with a huge backside 1260 with a melon grab.”I was trying switch backside 900’s (on the third jump), and it wasn’t working out for me, so I figured I’d slow it down a bit,” Guldemond said. “I did the 540, and then straightened it into the last jump, grabbed my toes, took the melon, and waited for the last 180 to come around.”The backside 1260 melon was the third of Guldemond’s career.Kevin Pearce took fourth, narrowly missing his second podium in as many nights. Pearce tied for second in the rail jam.”I was a little bummed tonight,” Pearce said. “I rode a little better in practice. It’s nice to get up there in both events.”Danny Davis rounded out the top five, while Jonas Carlson, Mason Aguirre, Jusso Laivisto, Nate Sheehan and Torstein Horgmo rounded out the top 10.
Riders were singing the praises of the course all night.”There are four big jumps in a row, which there aren’t anywhere else,” Wiig said. “And they are really good jumps, which makes you able to do stuff you can’t do anywhere else. I don’t know if you’ll see that at the X-games.”Guldemond enjoyed being able to go for the big tricks.”The jumps have steep landings, which is good on your body,” Guldemond said. “Things like (1260’s) are able to be thrown down.”Today, the Session wraps up with a public rails competition starting at 11 a.m.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or email@example.com.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.