North America will be well represented, with 2020 Laax Open winner and Beijing 2022 silver medallist Julia Marino and Hailey Langland of the USA dropping in, while their neighbours to the north the Canadians have Edmonton big air World Cup winner Jasmine Baird and reigning big air World Champion Laurie Blouin.
Keep a close eye on Mia Brookes, the 15 year old who wowed the crowd in Kreischberg with the first ever flat-spin 1260 landed in a women’s snowboard competition last weekend. Brookes’ rail game is arguably stronger than her jumps, so she could be a force come Saturday.
And don’t forget about Annika Morgan of Germany, last season’s third-place finisher in Laax, who’s on site for her first competition of the season and looking to do a little shredding in between DJ sets.
LOADED LAAX MEN’S STARTLIST PROMISES HEAVY COMPETITION
For the men it’s a veritable who’s-who of the competition world on hand here for the Laax slopestyle – save for the absence of the respective Beijing 2022 slopestyle gold and silver medallist Max Parrot (CAN) and Su Yiming (CHN).
Still, despite those notable no-shows, this field is long and deep, with possibly 1/3 or more of the 63 rider-strong startlist capable of finding their way onto the podium come Saturday.
With that in mind, maybe we should start by discussing the Japanese team, who are fresh off a historic sweep of the podium last weekend in Kreischberg.
Leading the way there was 17-year-old Taiga Hasegawa and his two-ways 1800s, followed by Ryoma Kimata and his third run 1980 (the first 1980 ever landed in competition), and then 18-year-old Kira Kimura, who grabbed a piece of the podium in the first World Cup start of his career.
The Japanese team is so deep that Kimura won’t even be starting this week in Laax, as this season’s Big Air Chur winner Takeru Otsuka and Hiroto Ogiwara (who very nearly stomped a SWITCH backside 1980 in Kreischberg) are higher on the Japanese ranks. It’s an astonishing wealth of talent on the Japanese team right now, and it’ll be interesting to see how the young squad does on the Laax stage.
The USA is probably second on the national power team rankings, with last season’s Laax winner Sean Fitsimons and PyeongChang 2018 Olympic gold medallist Red Gerard leading the way. With this season’s big air second-overall Chris Corning, style kings Luke Winkelmann and Dusty Henricksen, Brock Crouch, Judd Henkes and 2022 Laax Open third-place finisher Jake Canter all also amongst the ranks, the U.S. team is simply no joke this week.