Emil Ulsletten saved his best run for last and it put him on the top of the podium Friday (April 19), as the Norwegian rider won The Shred Show’s slopestyle competition on Blackcomb to become $15,000 richer.
Ulsletten qualified for Friday’s final in the 10th and final position, but edged top qualifier Eric Willett on his last run of the day to take first place in the TTR World Snowboard Tour 5-Star event.
“I was super happy. It was my first win of the season so it felt pretty good,” said Ulsletten, who said Friday’s victory was among the top three performances of his career. “I’ve won one 5-Star before and I got third at O’Neill (Evolution), which is a 6-Star, so those three are pretty similar.”
The 19-year-old earned a score of 84.50 from judges on his last trip down the course, putting together a tremendous run that included a frontside double cork 1080 on the first jump and another double off the last. Ulsletten said he felt the Blackcomb course set up well for him.
“I’m kind of a jump guy and there were three big jumps, so that was perfect,” he said.
Willett’s second qualifying run earned the top score of the day at 87.33. He took the early lead in finals with an 83.33 on his first run, but it didn’t last long, as Ulsletten was next to drop starting the second run and set the winning score.
“Second place was good … it was kind of tough, just with the weather and everything, being able to stick a consistent run,” said Willett. “I’m just glad I was able to put something down.”
Willett picked up $6,000 for the runner-up finish, making it another good payday for him in Whistler. The 25-year-old won the Billabong Ante Up big air contest in the resort in July 2011, a victory that was worth $20,000.
“I think it’s just kind of the end of the season when you’re so comfortable with your riding that you know what you can do, and you go out and do it,” Willett said of his success in Whistler. “I feel like that’s kind of how it’s been when I come up here.”
Tyler Nicholson of North Bay, Ont., finished third on Friday to earn $4,000, netting a score of 78.33. Spencer Link and Maxence Parrot rounded out the top five, while the other riders making it to finals included Eric Beauchemin, Brett Moody, Jeremy Thompson, Jon Versteeg and Charles Reid.
Versteeg best in Boarderstyle
Versteeg made sure locals weren’t shut out in this year’s WSSF by capturing last Thursday’s (April 18) Boarderstyle event that kicked off The Shred Show’s schedule.
It was the second time the Whistler-based rider has won the race — which is unique to The Shred Show — in its three-year history, as he won the event’s debut in 2011.
In Boarderstyle, riders race down the snowboard cross track on Blackcomb while completing tricks along the way, including a mandatory minimum 360 off the final jump going into the finish.
Versteeg said his regular approach to riding may be what gives him an edge over the competition in Boarderstyle.
“I’ve never done a boardercross contest in my life. The first one I ever did was two years ago in this contest and I won,” said Versteeg, who ended the final with a backside 720 over the last jump. “I don’t know — I just ride as fast as I can wherever I go anyway.”
The prize purse contained bragging rights only on Thursday, but Versteeg did take home one of the Shred Show crowns handed to winners this year. Visibility for the event was minimal, with Blackcomb blanketed by thick fog for the afternoon, but Versteeg said he got comfortable with the course after riding it a couple of times.
“The first run through the course, you were kinda like ‘Where are the corners? What is coming up next?,’ because you can’t see anything,” he said. “But after riding the course a couple of times, you kind of knew where to go to pick your line, where other people were going and how to pull yourself ahead of them.”
Fellow local rider Kevin Sansalone also reached Thursday’s final, while North Vancouver’s Myrosha Daley and Argentina’s Martin Juareguialzo rounded out the last four-man heat, making it three consecutive years that Juareguialzo has qualified for the Boarderstyle final. The event did see some controversy in the semis, as Travis Williams finished his heat first despite crashing on his 360 over the last jump, but judges sent Sansalone and Daley through to the final on stronger tricks.