A difficult day at the 2023 Laax Open slopestyle and halfpipe World Cups concluded in disappointing fashion on Saturday evening, as halfpipe finals were cancelled due to the weather conditions.
With rolling fog, snow and wind all effecting the conditions at the halfpipe on Saturday evening, the decision was made to cancel the competition after two hours of delays and push-backs. Despite the best efforts of the organisers and the hopes of the athletes and thousands of fans gathered at the Laax halfpipe for better weather, it was simply not to be.
With the cancellation of halfpipe finals, the results from Friday’s semifinals heats would stand as the final results for the competition, giving 18-year-old Japanese rider Mitsuki Ono the first victory of her World Cup career, while her teammate Ruka Hirano would claim his first Laax Open win and his third World Cup victory overall.
Second place for the women would go to China’s Wu Shaotong – the first career World Cup podium for the 24-year-old, coming in her 23rd career start.
Third place belonged to the USA’s Maddie Mastro, as the 22-year-old earned her 10th career World Cup podium almost exactly three years since her last top-3 came. in Mammoth Mountain during the 2019/20 season.
With the win Ono took over the yellow World Cup leader’s bib from Queralt Castellet (ESP), who finished fourth this week in Laax.
For the men it was Scotty James of Australia who would earn runner-up honours behind Hirano – more than enough for him to maintain his lead atop the men’s halfpipe World Cup standings.
“The halfpipe was amazing as always, but unfortunately with the weather we weren’t able to compete in the end, which was a bit of a shame,” said James after the awards ceremony, “It’s always amazing to ride here in Laax in front of this crowd. For me on the podium its a little bit bittersweet, because I would have loved to have rode tonight but I’m also happy to be able to come away with second place.
“We had a discussion between the riders about what we wanted to do,” James continued, “And we mutually decided to give it one more try, which we did, but unfortunately the weather came back in again and they had to cancel it. It was a really good effort from everyone, everyone worked really hard to make it happen, but unfortunately we can’t control mother nature. It’s a winter sport and we gotta be grateful it’s snowing.”
In the third place for the men was Yuto Totsuka of Japan, as the reigning halfpipe World Champion earned his first World Cup podium in over a year.
Earlier in the day at Laax it was slopestyle finals effected by the weather, as similar conditions to what we saw at the halfpipe forced slopestyle to be postponed to Sunday morning. Sunday afternoon in Laax is slated for freeski slopestyle finals.
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