It may not have been in the fashion he preferred, but Silverthorne snowboarder Chris Corning earned himself his first-ever world championship this weekend in Park City, Utah.
On the final day of the 2019 International Ski & Snowboard Federation Snowboard Freestyle and Freeski World Championships in Park City, Corning stepped to the top of the podium on Sunday afternoon to accept his world championship gold medal. The 19-year-old was awarded it thanks to his top qualifying score from Saturday and after Sunday’s final round was canceled due to what FIS officials deemed to be hazardous weather.
Corning’s qualifying round score of 93.25 from Saturday put him at the head of the podium, joined by Canadian star Mark McMorris (93.00) and Californian 17-year-old Judd Henkes (90.50). The official reasoning for the cancellation of the event was due to unsafe wind conditions.
“When (making) the decision to cancel,” world championships officials said on a Tweet shared by the official 2019 World Championships Twitter account, “it’s not only safety that is taken into account, it’s fairness. The winds are gusting across the course, and forecast not to diminish this afternoon, which means each athlete might face different conditions on their runs.”
Corning said the 10 men’s snowboard slopestyle finalists got two practice runs down the course before officials halted the practice before the competition, which was scheduled to start at 11 a.m. MST. Of the 10 finalists, Corning said he was the only competitor to hit the jumps during the practice runs, where he warmed up with some 360-degree and 540-degree rotational tricks.
After the fact, Corning said he was ready for the competition and expressed his desire to the officials to run the contest, though he was also understanding of the reasons why officials decided to cancel.
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“I can’t argue with the decision, there were definitely safety concerns,” Corning said from the bottom of the course on Sunday, “It sucks, but it is what it is. I was really happy with my run yesterday. It was hard to see and probably one of the scariest contest runs I’ve had to do in a long time. I was looking forward to today to ride. But I’ll take it, because I planted my run yesterday pretty solid.”
Saturday’s qualifying run — and eventual championship run — for Corning consisted of a rail section that featured a 50-50 to a 270 off of the down-flat-down rail feature before executing a back 360 on the ensuing down rail and a backside rodeo off of the final feature in the jibs portion of the course.
Corning said on Sunday evening that he would have likely done that same run through the rails if Sunday’s final had been held. As for the jumps portion, though, Corning said he was ready to attempt a 1260 on the first jump, then a 1440 on the second jump before again attempting a backside triple-cork 1440 on the final money-booter jump. On Saturday, Corning earned that score of 93.25 by rounding out his jumps with a massive backside triple-cork 1440, but on the ensuing jumps he opted for simpler tricks in a cab-900 and front-1080.
Corning said he didn’t enter Saturday’s qualifying round thinking, if he topped the qualifiers leaderboard, that Sunday’s forecast inclement weather could result in him being awarded the contest. In fact, on Saturday Corning was just focused on landing a run to qualify him through to semifinals or finals after he failed to execute a full pull on his first run, receiving a paltry score of 38.00 on that first run. That left him with one attempt to qualify through to finals.
Sunday’s slopestyle cancellation followed the weather-induced cancellation of the world championship men’s snowboard big air competition earlier in the week, which Corning was also a favorite to podium in.