Photography by Frode Sandbech / Words by Jason Horton

With homegrown talents like Torstein Horgmo, Gjermund Braaten, Stale Sandbech and Ulrik Badertscher all in town, Norway went into this week with high hopes of showcasing its status as a slopestyle superpower in front of a proud domestic crowd, but it wasn’t to be.

Things took an early turn for the worst when all but one of team Norway got knocked out in the qualifiers: Luckily for team coach Thomas Harstad’s job security, Alex Ostreng secured a spot in the ten-man final. However, he got badly underscored to come in fifth for what was arguably a podium-worthy run.

As with the halfpipe, judging was done with an innovative system whereby each of the six features was scored out of a possible 10, with a further 40 points being awarded for the overall ‘Flow’ of the run. Unlike last night’s halfpipe however, the slopestyle course was far from perfect. The layout was great: three jumps with three rail features distributed throughout the course. With equal scoring it meant that rail tricks needed to be just as technical as the jumps. Unfortunately, the snow was a slow, the landings a little flat, and very icy. Not that you would have known it from the men’s event, but for the women it made what was already a very challenging course into… well, a bitch. It highlights a very real dilemma: should the ladies compete on a smaller ‘ladies line’, allowing them to pull their best tricks, or step up to the challenge? Finland’s Enni Rukajarvi is all about equality: “I like riding the same course as the men, but a lot of the girls can’t do their best tricks on jumps this big. Still, with today’s course being so bumpy, icy and slow, I had to skip a couple of sevens from my run.”

One variation from the usual format is that the leading rider has to drop first in the final round, rather than last. While it must suck to sit and watch the whole field trying to snatch victory from you, it sure keeps the drama cranked up until the end. For the ladies, that meant Jamie Anderson got to watch Spencer O’Brien, who had fallen in her first two runs, pull it all together to make a backside 540, switch backside 540, 50-50 and frontside 720 combo that put her in first place.

In the men’s, Seb Toots got to watch Chas Guldemond take the last run of the contest and nail the most technical line of his career: frontside blunt 270 out, frontside boardslide to 450 out, switch backside 1260, backside 1080, tailpress to backside 180, Cab 1260. Chas was stoked: “I’m the oldest rider in today’s final, and I’ll be thirty for the next one, but I will for sure be there to defend this title.”

Someone else who’ll definitely be back in four years with a vengeance is Mark McMorris, who was the clear favorite going in, but he had an absolute shocker, falling on all three of his runs. His last run saw him fall three times, which probably counts as the worst run of his career. Wonder what his run will look like then? All four quad cork 16’s?

Chas’s winning run.

Spencer’s winning run.

Results

Men’s

1. Chas Guldemond 87.9

2. Sebastien Toutant 86.8

3. Seppe Smits 76.3

4. Eric Beauchemin 75.9

5. Aleksander Østreng 74.4

6. Sven Thorgren 66.7

7. Tyler Flanagan 63.1

8. Roope Tonteri 59.5

9. Mark McMorris 36.9

Women’s

1. Spencer O’Brien 84.4

2. Jamie Anderson 78.9

3. Enni Rukajarvi 74.5

4. Cheryl Maas 64.3

5. Shelly Gottlieb 63.1

6. Kjersti Østgaard Buaas 62.1

7. Jodie Karlinski 53.5

8. Megan Ginter 48.9

9. Ty Walker 28.7

10. Urska Pribosic 25.3