Plenty of Opportunities But No Medals for the U.S. at Mammoth Slopestyle
Norway wins gold in both the men’s and women’s events; the top American finishes just off the podium.
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Wind again played havoc at Mammoth Mountain on Saturday, as the California resort hosted the third slopestyle event of six on the World Cup Tour.
In the men’s event at the Toyota U.S. Snowboard and Freeski Grand Prix, the American field was deep, with five athletes in the finals. But the competition proved fierce. Birk Ruud of Norway took his second win of the season with a pole-less first run that scored 94.80 points. His countryman Sebastian “Sea Bass” Schjerve placed second, also on his first run with no poles. But in the second run, Switzerland’s Andri Ragettli came from behind and bumped American Mac Forehand off the podium with a performance that ended with a pair of double 1620s off the bottom two jumps—an extremely risky move given the wind in the rhythm section. But then again, Ragettli was trying to hold on to the yellow bib awarded to the slopestyle points leader, which he ultimately ceded to Ruud, who will now keep it until March when the slopestyle circuit resumes in Tignes, France.
Afterwards, Ruud was a little surprised that he came away victorious. “I had a tough time coming in straight from X Games,” he said, where he placed fifth in slopestyle. “Just got one day of practice before qualifiers which took a lot of energy; I was kind of low. But I managed to wrap myself around, put down a good run, and I’m very happy to win again today. It’s an amazing feeling.”
Watch: Podium Runs from the Men’s Slopestyle Finals
Next, Ruud plans to fly home to Norway then compete in the freeski world championships in Bakuriani, Georgia (about 115 miles north of Tbilisi, the capital). But first, he said, “I also want to say a shout out to Seb [Schjerve], my [Norwegian] brother, getting second place, standing on the podium together again.” They went 1-3 in Big Air at Copper Mountain in December, led by Ruud, “It’s awesome. A lot of love.”
Related: American Birk Irving Wins World Cup Halfpipe at Mammoth
For the Americans, Mac Forehand led the team in fourth place with 92.00 points, followed by rookie Konnor Ralph, who placed seventh in just his sixth World Cup start. Cody Laplante, Alex Hall, and Colby Stevenson went 9-10-11.
In the women’s event, Johanne Killi of Norway, 25, made it a threepeat to remain undefeated in World Cup slopestyle this season. Her first run was the best, scoring 84.80 points.
“I was just happy making it into finals,” Killi said. “I didn’t think I could have a run that could win today.”
Kirsty Muir of Great Britain placed second with 82.00 points, also on her first run. The big surprise was New Zealand’s Ruby Star Andrews, barely 18 years old, who placed third.
Meanwhile, neither gold medalist from the last two Olympics (Switzerland’s Mathilde Gremaud and Sarah Hoefflin) nor the 2023 X Games champion (Megan Oldham of Canada) were able to put down two clean runs.
The U.S. was shut out of the eight-woman final, but Rell Harwood and Jay Riccomini placed ninth and tenth, respectively, based on their qualifying runs on Thursday.