Winkelmann Grabs Big Air Silver at Junior World Champs
ASM local Luke Winkelmann (Blowing Rock, N.C.) kicked off the 2018 FIS Junior Freestyle Ski & Snowboard World Championships with a silver medal in the snowboard big air, leading three Americans into the top six Sunday.
The heavy-hitting men’s big air competition opened the delayed festivities at the Winter Games NZ in hugely entertaining fashion on Sunday, with Japan’s Takeru Otsuka claiming the gold medal. Canada’s William Buffey claimed the bronze medal. Jack Coyne (Edwards, Colo.) and Dylan Okurowski (Vail, Colo.) were fifth and sixth respectively.
Heavy winds at Cardrona Mountain Resort had shut down the big air competition during its scheduled slot on Saturday, forcing it to be rescheduled to Sunday morning. However, on Sunday morning the wind persisted forcing several delays, and come noontime the competition was looking to be in danger of cancellation.
But at the 11th hour, the winds abated and, under sunny skies on the perfectly-shaped Cardrona big air kicker, the Junior men were able to get back to work at the venue that had yielded such an impressive qualification round two days previous.
From the outset, it was clear that it would be tough to match Otsuka despite the high-caliber of the field after the 17-year-old posted a score of 96.0 for his best jump in Friday’s qualifiers. On Sunday, Otsuka picked up right where he left off in the qualifying round, stomping a frontside triple cork 1440 on his first run before coming back in his second run and putting down a cab triple cork 1440 mute that earned a 96.4 to make it the best jump of the competition.
“The wind stopped out there and it got perfect and I just went at it,” said Winkelmann, who admitted after a putting down a simple 360 in his final run that the standard set by Otsuka was too much to chase down. “I stomped my first two runs (frontside triple cork 1440 tail grab and a switch backside triple 1260 mute) and I was super hyped with that and now I’m just stoked. I hadn’t landed my switch back 12 all day, didn’t land a single one in practice, so it’s crazy that I landed that in competition. And then I just cruised on my third run.”