SNOWBOARD: Japan’s Onitsuka defeats Olympic star Gasser in final round

Japan's Slopestyle star Miyabi Onitsuka

The second Snowboard Slopestyle event of the season turned into a showdown between Japan’s Miyabi Onitsuka, going for her second straight win and the Olympic Slopestyle silver medalist, Anna Gasser of Austria.

The competition in Kreischberg (AUT) favored the hometown favorite, Gasser, and she had a lead of 82.36-82.35 after the first round. Neither improved in the second round, but Onitsuka powered through a great third run to take the lead at 85.33.

That left Gasser with the final try, but her score of 85.10 left her just short, and in second place.

Onitsuka’s two wins have her at the top of the World Cup standings with 2,000 points, with teammate Reira Iwabuchi (who finished fifth) in second at 1,250 and Gasser third with 800.

Norway’s Mons Roisland won the men’s Slopestyle in the final round as well. Ruki Tobita (JPN) had the lead at 71.73 entering the final round, but then a succession of riders flew by him. Japan’s Hiroaki Kunitake improved from 28.20 to 83.86 in the third round and looked like a possible winner.

Then Roisland’s excellent run scored 88.75 to take the lead. But American Chris Corning – the 2017 World Championships bronze medalist – put down a high-quality run that scored 84.75, good enough for second place.

“I really wish I had just stomped my first run, because I hate standing up there knowing I’ve got to do my best on my last one,” Roisland laughed from the finish, “My rail section was super technical and I had already stomped it in both of my first two runs, so I was kinda worried I wouldn’t be able to do it three in a row, but I guess I did. I’m just super pumped to have put it all together on the last run there.”

Corning was satisfied with silver. “My first run was just squirrelly, all over the place,” he said afterwards. “Second run I misjudged the second jump and came up short and took a bit of a digger. But I was ok and was able to get back up for third run, put it down, and I’m stoked to get up on the podium in second place.”

Japan’s Takeru Otsuka maintained his World Cup Slopestyle lead, with 1,500 points, ahead of Niklas Mattsson (SWE: 1,200) and Roisland (1,000). Summaries:

FIS Snowboard World Cup
Kreischberg (AUT) ~ 11-12 January 2019
(Full results here)

Men’s Slopestyle: 1. Mons Roisland (NOR), 88.75; 2. Chris Corning (USA), 84.75; 3. Hiroaki Kunitake (JPN), 83.86; 4. Takeru Otsuka (JPN), 83.31; 5. Ruki Tobita (JPN), 82.23. Also: 6. Judd Henkes (USA), 66.93; … 9. Ryan Stassel (USA), 37.95.

Women’s Slopestyle: 1. Miyabi Onitsuka (JPN), 85.33; 2. Anna Gasser (AUT), 85.10; 3. Silje Norendal (NOR), 67.81; 4. Sina Candrian (SUI), 65.81; 5. Reira Iwabuchi (JPN), 57.01.

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