Second place went to another of the night’s Japanese history-makers, as Ryoma Kimata landed the first-ever 1980 in World Cup competition.
Kimata’s backside 1980 melon marked another new epoch in big air snowboarding, and the 20-year-old put it down with aplomb on his way to earning a score of 97.00 for the stomp – the highest marks given to any jump in the men’s competition. Combined with his switch backside 1620 stalefish from run one, Kimata would finish with 182.50 points.
The Japanese sweep was completed by 18-year-old Kira Kimura.
Showing once again that Japan has perhaps the greatest wealth of snowboard talent on the planet, Kimura dropped in on the first competition of his World Cup career and walked away with his first World Cup podium, landing a switch backside 1620 weddle and a backside 1800 melon for 181.75 on the scoreboard and his name in the history books forever.
On top of all of this, it’s also worth noting that Japan’s Hiroto Ogiwara very nearly put down the first-ever SWITCH backside 1980 in competition just after Kimata’s final run. In fact, with the boost he had on that hit, Ogiwara could have conceivably taken it to 2160. However, it seems that marker will have to wait for another event before it will be broken in competition.
Finally, we come to the men’s big air World Cup overall winner, as 17-year-old Valentino Guseli’s made a bit of history of his own with a crystal globe victory that now makes him the first Australian to take that trophy in big air World Cup competition.
Guseli started Saturday’s competition just four points ahead of Chris Corning (USA), the current co-leader in all-time men’s Park & Pipe crystal globes. However, with his fourth place finish in Kreischberg and a seventh for Corning, Guseli was able to walk away triumphant, with his first career globe in hand.
“Firstly, wow. So hyped,” Guseli said, holding his new trophy, “I knew coming here it was a possibility to get the globe and I wanted to make it so bad, because it was a good opportunity to get this beautiful thing that is definitely going in my pool room.
“But I knew I had to beat Chris (Corning) who, out of anyone in the field, is probably the person you least want to have to beat, because he’s just so good and consistent. I think he’s won seven (crystal globes). So, I’m super happy. It was a battle and I landed my stuff. Couldn’t really ask for much more.”
Guseli would finish with 214 points, 18 ahead of Corning and his 196. Marcus Kleveland (NOR), who did not compete in Kreischberg, still finished in third place overall with 140 points.
Put it all together and you have what was arguably the greatest big air World Cup of a time, and truly an epic and fitting end to the 2022/23 big air World Cup season.
From Kreischberg we’ll be travelling directly on to Laax, where the first slopestyle and the second halfpipe competitions of the 2022/23 season will be going down in a big way at the Laax Open in Switzerland.