SNOWBOARD: Scotty James wins third World Halfpipe title and Chloe Kim gets her first

World Halfpipe Champions Scotty James (AUS) and Chloe Kim (USA) (Photo: Sarah Brunsson/USSA)

The Snowboard Halfpipe events were among the best at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, with brilliant victories from Shaun White and Chloe Kim of the U.S. That made them among the host-hyped for the 2019 World Freestyle & Snowboard Championships in Utah, and they delivered.

Australia’s Scotty James defended his 2015 and 2017 titles with two runs better than anyone else in the field and Kim won her first world title, with her first run of the final.

In the men’s final, James started in the no. 8 position, with likely challengers Patrick Burgener (SUI) and Yuko Totsuka (JPN) behind him. The first sevens runs were all lackluster, with the top score at just 79.00.

James tore through his first run with lots of power and ended up with changing the entire event with a sensational score of 94.25 and put the pressure on everyone else.

Totsuka did well, at 85.50 for second and then Burgener settled into third at 84.75. American Toby Miller scored 90.00 on his second trial, moving into second and signaling to Totsuka and Burgener that they had work to do. James aborted his second run, but Totsuka responded better with a 92.25 score and Burgener scored 91.25 to move back into third.

On the final runs, Miller scored only 48.00 as his run went awry, so the medal winners appeared to be set. By the time James got ready to go again, he was assured of a medal, and likely the gold again, but he was ready for a supreme effort.

And his run was sensational, earning a 99 and three 98s on the way to a 97.50 score that appeared to assure him of his third consecutive world title. Both Totsuka and Burgener’s runs were off-line, so James went to the top of the podium again. At 24, he has more Worlds in front of him, and he stepped up from the bronze he won in PyeongChang last season.

“I had two very, very fierce competitors behind me, and I knew they would be coming down and throw some good runs,” said James about his final run. “But for me also, I knew I could clean up my run a bit. I was happy with my first run, but my plan was to do it better, and I executed it. To win, I’m just over the moon about it. I haven’t really had time to think about it yet. I was pinching myself when I won my second world championships and I’m pinching myself again now that I’ve got three. I got to go out there and do wanted to do and I’m proud of that.”

Interestingly, his 97.50 score in 2019 equaled his score at the 2017 World Championships in Spain.

The women’s Halfpipe turned out to be more of a coronation than a competition. There were eight in the finals, with a quality field that had tons of World Cup, World Championships and Olympic experience. Kim went sixth and was looking to better the 84.00 from China’s Xuetong Cai, the two-time defending World Champion (just like James).

Game over. Kim ripped through her run with style and the only question was how big a lead she had forged. Scores of 95-94-93-93-93 ended up at 93.50 and the event was essentially over.

In fact, Cai and Kim both were unable to do better and no one else could reach the 80s in the second round. In the third, Spain’s Queralt Castellet popped into third place with a score of 81.00. But she was immediately replaced as the bronze medalist by American Maddie Mastro, with a score of 82.0 and that’s how it ended.

“I was really nervous,” said Kim. “Today was actually the first decent day we’ve had, so it was kinda crazy getting all my tricks back in this halfpipe. I landed my first run and I was stoked, and then my second run was kind of a set-up run to try the double. I really wish I was able to put (the double) down, but hopefully the next contest I can do it. But I’m super stoked to take home the win here at world championships. I love it here in Park City, and I’m proud of all the ladies’ riding today.”

Kim has now won the Olympic and World titles by margins of 8.50 and 9.50 points, respectively, at age 18. Mastro, also a 2018 Olympian, won her first World Championships medal, also at 18.

The final Snowboard Worlds event will be the Slopestyle, scheduled for Sunday (10th). Summaries:

FIS Snowboard World Championships
Park City, Utah (USA) ~ 1-10 February 2019
(Full results here)

Men’s Snowboard Cross (at Solitude Mountain)/ Big Final: 1. Mick Dierdorff (USA); 2. Hanno Douschan (AUT); 3. Emanuel Perathoner (ITA); 4. Lucas Eguibar (ESP). Small Final: 5. Jake Vedder (USA); 6. Baptiste Brochu (CAN); 7. Paul Berg (GER); 8. Leon Beckhaus (GER).

Women’s Snowboard Cross (at Solitude Mountain)/ Big Final: 1. Eva Samkova (CZE); 2. Charlotte Bankes (GBR); 3. Michela Moioli (ITA); 4. Francesca Gallina (ITA). Small Final: 5. Lindsey Jacobellis (USA); 6. Raffaella Bruto (ITA); 7. Chloe Trespeuch (FRA); 8. Carle Brenneman (CAN).

Mixed Snowboard Cross Team (at Solitude Mountain)/ Big Final: 1. Mick Dierdorff/Lindsey Jacobellis (USA); 2. Omar Visintin/Michaela Moioli (ITA); 3. Paul Berg/Hanna Ihedioha (GER); 4. Emanuel Perathoner/Francesca Gallina (ITA). Small Final: 5. Loan Bozzolo/Chloe Trespeuch (FRA); 6. Baptiste Brochu/Carle Brenneman (CAN); 7. Merlin Surget/Nelly Moenne Loccoz (FRA); 8. Kalle Koblet/Lara Casanova (SUI).

Men’s Parallel Giant Slalom/ Big Final: 1. Dmitry Loginov (RUS); 2. Tim Mastnak (SLO); Small Final: 3. Stefan Baumeister (GER); 4. Vic Wild (RUS).

Men’s Parallel Slalom/ Big Final: 1. Loginov (RUS); 2. Ronald Fischnaller (ITA); Small Final: 3. Baumeister (GER); 4. Dmitry Sarsembaev (RUS).

Women’s Parallel Giant Slalom/ Big Final: 1. Selina Joerg (GER); 2. Natalia Soboleva (RUS); Small Final: 3. Ladina Jenny (SUI); 4. Milena Bykova (RUS).

Women’s Parallel Slalom/ Big Final: 1. Julie Zogg (SUI); 2. Annamari Dancha (UKR); Small Final: 3. Ramona Hofmeister (GER); 4. Maria Valova (RUS).

Men’s Big Air (at Canyons Village): Cancelled due to bad weather.

Women’s Big Air (at Canyons Village): Cancelled due to bad weather.

Men’s Halfpipe: 1. Scotty James (AUS), 97.50; 2. Yuto Totsuka (JPN), 92.25; 3. Patrick Burgener (SUI), 91.25; 4. Toby Miller (USA), 90.00; 5. Kent Callister (AUS), 79.00; 6. Ikko Anai (JPN), 75.75; 7. Derek Livingston (CAN), 73.75; 8. Yiwei Zhang (CHN), 61.25.

Women’s Halfpipe: 1. Chloe Kim (USA), 93.50; 2. Xuetong Cai (CHN), 84.00; 3. Maddie Mastro (USA), 82.00; 4. Queralt Castellet (ESP), 81.00; 5. Arielle Gold (USA), 79.00; 6. Verena Rohrer (SUI), 75.00; 7. Kurumi Imai (JPN), 74.50; 8. Elizabeth Hosking (CAN), 60.25.