Gus warms up for his big win tonight.
Well he's two-thirds of the way to a clean sweep of the AFP World Championships here in Whistler. Gus Kenworthy, the expected AFP Overall title winner, has won tonight's big air under the lights. Gus, fresh off a big air win at JOI in Sweden and a second place finish at the Nine Knights big air in Italy, has taken his third consecutive big air podium this season. Canadian Vincent Gagnier took home second place tonight, with Aussie Russ Henshaw in third place.
As the AFP World Championships at the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival continued tonight, so did the lackluster weather here in the Coastal Range. Mother Nature let loose a barrage of rain throughout the contest, but it would take more than that to sour the moods of 30+ competitors and the massive crowd that turned up to see the show. After all, it's the biggest and most watched event here at the Telus festival; a perennial favorite.
The night kicked off with 27 men going through semifinals, each receiving two jumps to showcase their goods for the judges. The early evening was filled with big tricks and some bigger crashes, as the men vied for eight spots in finals. Bobby Brown took home the top qualification with a switch double cork 1260 mute, while he crashed on his switch double cork 1440. UK's James Woods, who most likely has the most experience skiing in the rain, put down picture perfect switch double cork 1080 octo-grabs. Gus Kenworthy was unleashing double cork 1440 blunts, while Russ Henshaw let loose massive double cork 1080s.
Nick Goepper still drops dubs in the inclement weather.
Rounding out the qualifiers was Torin Yater-Wallace, Alexis Godbout, Vinnie Cash and Kai Mahler. Both Kai and Torin opted for double cork 1260 varieties, while Vinnie opted for the double bio cork 1260 and Alexis went to the moon on a couple rightside double flatspin 900s. Joss Christensen and Jacob Wester narrowly missed out on finals with their solid double cork 1260s.
David Wise put down a double misty 1080 first run, yet opted for a switch double misty 1260 on his second, taking quite a tumble. Antti Ollila whipped out a couple flawless switch double flip 1080s, while 14-year old Willie Borm unwrapped his double cork 1260 for the crowd. Tom Wallisch dropped the double backflip for everyone, while Torin's second jump was the always-popular front flip.
With the men's finals squared away, the women's finals got underway, yet the women's field has had quite some attrition of late. Kaya Turski has opted out of WSI, Devin Logan injured herself in yesterday's slopestyle, and a few other ladies pulled out today (Dara Howell, Anna Segal, et al). A couple of the ladies had trouble clearing the jump, the most marked example being Keltie Hansen, as she took a tumble after her jump. But Sweden's Emma Dahlstrom would emerge victorious with her stylish 360 sealing the deal. Eveline Bhend's flatspin 540 was clean, but she had a bobble on the landing, which was the case with Rose Battersby's 720s.
Once the ladies had finished their show, it was time for the men to shine, with each of the eight finalists getting two jumps again. Gus—who crashed on his first attempt—dropped the double cork 1620 blunt to overtake Vincent Gagnier. Vinnie, went with some more double bio 1260 octograbs, styling his way to another podium. Russ Henshaw gravitated toward the massive air department, taking his double cork 12080 mute to japan deep.
L-R: Vincent Gagnier, Gus Kenworthy, Russ Henshaw
Last year's WSI Big Air winner Bobby Brown ended up in fourth place with his near-perfect switch double cork 1260s. James Woods stayed the course with his switch double cork 1080 octograb. On his first attempt, Torin Yater-Wallace took an ugly spill on a double cork 1260, leading many to believe he wouldn't take his second run. But he would turn up the amplitude dial and drop a huge double cork 1260 on his second attempt. Alexis Godbout once again boosted a couple double flatspin 900, while Kai Mahler opted for double cork 1260 double Japan grabs.
AJ Kemppainen enjoying the festivities.
In lieu of a cash prize, Gus has won a new Chevy Sonic, compliments of the festival. But there is no time to celebrate tonight, as Gus is looking to complete the cycle here in Whistler at tomorrow's superpipe competition. With both David Wise and Torin taking significant spills, their presence in the pipe tomorrow could be in jeopardy. But stay tuned for tomorrow's superpipe recap and story.
WSI Men's Finals:
1_ Gus Kenworthy
2_ Vincent Gagnier
3_ Russ Henshaw
4_ Bobby Brown
5_ James Woods
6_ Torin Yater-Wallace
7_ Alexis Godbout
8_ Kai Mahler
James Woods, Jossi Wells and PK Hunder enjoying the rainy night.
WSI Women's Finals:
1_ Emma Dahlström
2_ Eveline Bhend
3_ Rose Battersby
4_ Keltie Hansen
Today's win almost certainly cements Gus's status as AFP Overall title holder for his second straight season. But all will be revealed on Sunday evening at the AFP awards dinner here in Whistler. For more information on the AFP and all relevant rankings, visit the AFP website. For more information on the Telus WSSF, visit the event's website.
Alexis Godbout mid-Kangaroo.