Gus Kenworthy captured his second consecutive World Skiing Invitational (WSI) men’s slopestyle title on Monday (April 15), also cementing his third-straight AFP World Tour overall championship, as the World Ski and Snowboard Festival’s (WSSF) ski events came to a conclusion.
Kenworthy followed up his runner-up finish in Saturday’s (April 13) big air contest with Monday’s win, meaning he left the festival with a grand total of $8,500 lining his pockets. He also received the Sarah Burke Trophy as the AFP season champ at a banquet held later Monday at the Bearfoot Bistro.
“I feel like I always do pretty well in Whistler, it’s just one of my favourite places on Earth,” said Kenworthy, who also won a pair of WSI contests and a North Face Pipe and Park Open series event in the resort last winter.
“I’m stoked to be able to compete here.”
The Telluride, Colo., skier scored a 93.67 on his first of two finals runs to earn the victory, holding off podium finishers Nick Goepper (93.00) and Russ Henshaw (92.67) on the Blackcomb Mountain course.
While Kenworthy didn’t claim any AFP discipline titles this year — finishing second to Henrik Harlaut in big air and fourth in slopestyle — he said it “means the world” to win the Sarah Burke Trophy for a third year in a row.
“Unfortunately I don’t think this is enough to push me (to first) for slope, but I’ll stay in fourth, which is not too bad,” he said. “I’ve trained super hard and worked on all my tricks to get it to this point and it just feels awesome to be able to land runs in contests and get results. It shows that the work’s paying off and it feels great.”
Kenworthy has established himself as one of the planet’s best all-around skiers in advance of next season, when slopestyle and halfpipe will make their Olympic debuts during the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. The 21-year-old will be in Whistler for part of the offseason as a coach with Momentum Ski Camps, and said his focus early next winter will be on halfpipe, a discipline he struggled with at times this year.
“We’ve got a bunch of training camps lined up with the U.S. Team at Mammoth, and then back up here for the summer,” he said of the next steps towards Sochi. “I feel pretty good about where I am in slope right now, so I’m going to try and step up pipe a little bit and hopefully secure a spot on the U.S. Team for the Olympics for both pipe and slope.”
Whistler’s own Simon D’Artois doesn’t compete in slopestyle often, but the national halfpipe team member nearly made his way into the finals Monday. After surviving the qualification round on Sunday (April 14), D’Artois finished 11th in the eliminations held Monday, placing just outside the top 10 who advanced to finals.
X Games champ Goepper edged Henshaw for the AFP slopestyle season title after both finished on the podium Monday.
U.S. skier Maggie Voisin (90.00) won the women’s slopestyle title on Monday, while X Games gold medallist Tiril Sjastad Christiansen (88.00) was second and Jamie Crane-Mauzy (81.67) third.
However, there was much concern on Monday for local entry Yuki Tsubota, who had her helmet pop off when she crashed hard on her second run and was taken to the clinic for treatment. A Canadian Freestyle Ski Association official said Tsubota’s initial diagnosis showed no signs of anything broken or a concussion, though the Pemberton resident was experiencing some discomfort after the fall and may have suffered whiplash.
Tsubota’s first-run score of 74.00 was good enough for her to place fourth, the same position where she finished the season in the AFP slopestyle rankings.
Christiansen was handed her first Sarah Burke Trophy on Monday, powered by her runner-up finish to Canada’s Kaya Turski in the slopestyle standings.