Ryan Stassel edges out Sage Kotsenburg to win first 2014 Mammoth Grand Prix slopestyle final
All Photos: Chris Wellhausen
There was high energy in the air this morning as riders waited for practice to start at the first 2014 Mammoth Grand Prix slopestyle final. By Sunday, when the Grand Prix wraps up, the US Olympic team will be announced. In Mammoth’s Main Lodge riders took little bites of their breakfast, pushing the food aside. Their nerves were high, too. Today’s event was a make-up for the cancelled Breckenridge Grand Prix last weekend, and there were no qualifiers—it was straight to finals.
In the cool, early morning, the course during practice was fast. Some riders overshot as they tried to figure out the speed. On one of his warm-up runs Sage Kotsenburg sent it deep into the landing of the last jump, washing on his toe edge and smashing his face into the snow. At first he thought he had broken his nose and got a concussion. He unstrapped and walked off course to get a medical assessment.
Medical staff soon cleared Sage and he dropped in for his first run. After a technical rail section including a gap backside 270 Sage sent it into the triple jump line with a frontside 900, Cab double cork 1260, and backside double cork 1080. With that, he was in first place.
Shaun White dropped in for his run immediately after Sage and was looking solid through the rails with a gap to Cab hardway 450 on the kink rail. On the first jump he put down a clean switch backside 1080 and lined up for a Cab double cork 1260 on the second jump but caught his edge in the landing and scorpioned.
Chas Guldemond followed Shaun with a clean, technical rail section but played it mellow on the first jump with a switch backside 720. From there he dialed it up with with a Cab 1260 to backside 1080 to finish. That put Chas in third after Alaska’s Ryan Stassel.
And then Ryan held nothing back on his second run. In an almost exact replica of his first run he started the rail section with a backside 270, 270 out to switch backside 270 and switch boardslide 270 out. On the jumps he set down a switch backside 900, frontside 1080, and then stepped it up from his first run with a backside 1260. That put him in first, bumping Sage to second and Chas to third.
After the main contenders—Sage, Chas, and Shaun—all fell on their second runs it was pretty much over.
Today’s win was huge for Ryan, who was ranked sixth on the US Olympic team standings after competing at both the Breckenridge Dew Tour and Copper Grand Prix. “I feel like each contest was just a building block,” he said. ‘This one was just a great vibe, good day, so it was like f—k it, just go for it.”
For Sage, he was just lucky to be riding after his fall, let alone get second. “I had the gnarliest bail I took in two years this morning,” he said. “I just over-shot the jump and went straight to my face. I thought I broke my nose and got concussed, but I definitely didn’t get concussed, ‘cause we did some tests. My nose hurts really bad and I was bleeding everywhere. But here we are, I got second, I’m really hyped.”
Chas wasn’t satisfied with his third place finish, even though he’s currently qualified first for the US team. But he did have a strategy going into today. “This is the first of three events,” he said. “You don’t need to go balls-to-the-wall right off the bat. But I want to win. I shouldn’t be getting third place.”
His plan for this afternoon’s event? “Go for the win,” Chas said. “Just step everything up and try some new things. I got no pressure.”
The finals this morning are the first of three slopestyle events this week that will be used to determine the US Olympic slopestyle team. Eleven members of the US Olympic slopestyle and halfpipe teams will be named on Sunday, with the remaining members being named at a later date.
2014 Mammoth Grand Prix Men’s Slopestyle Finals #3 Results
1. Ryan Stassel
2. Sage Kotsenburg
3. Chas Guldemond
4. Eric Beauchemin
5. Brett Moody
6. Nik Baden
7. Brandon Davis
8. Ian Thorley
9. Justin Morgan
10. Spencer Link
11. Kyle Mack
12. Gabe Ferguson
13. Shaun White