WINTER WEEK: World Cup seasons in Freestyle & Snowboard continue; Short Track starts in Salt Lake City

World Snowboard Championships gold medalist Chris Corning (USA)

The first Alpine World Cup of the 2019-2020 season was last week; now the Freestyle Skiing and Snowboard seasons really get going, as does the Short Track skating season. First looks:

● FREESTYLE SKIING ● World Cup kicks off with Big Air in Modena

The Freestyle Skiing Big Air “season” has just four competitions in it, starting with the Modena Skipass event in Italy on Sunday (following Saturday’s Snowboard show).

Swiss Andri Ragettli (220 points), Birk Ruud (NOR: 172) and Fabian Boesch (SUI: 130) were the top three in the men’s World Cup in 2018-19, and Ragettli is expected to compete this week. The women’s seasonal medal winners were Canada’s Elena Gaskill (210), Swiss Mathidle Gremaud (200) and Germany’s Kea Kuehnel (140), with Italy’s Silvia Bertagna fourth (118). All four are expected in Modena.

Last year in Modena, Ruud and Gremaud were the winners. Look for results here.

● LUGE ● U.S. Nationals on this weekend in Lake Placid

The U.S. National Championships are on tap for Friday and Saturday at the famed Mt. Hoevenberg track in Lake Placid, New York, with two runs scheduled for each day, with all four heats combined to determine the final standings.

Defending national champ Chris Mazdzer – the 2018 Olympic silver medalist – is back to defend and trying for his ninth (!) national title. He is expected to be challenged by World Cup veterans Tucker West (the 2012 national co-champ) and Jonny Gustafson.

The women’s defender is Summer Britcher, who became the top U.S. slider last season and was third in the FIL World Cup seasonal standings. Her top challengers are expected to be 2019 Worlds bronze medalist Emily Sweeney and youngsters Brittney Arndt and Ashley Farquharson.

Look for results here.

● SNOWBOARD ● Second Big Air event of the season getting ready in Modena

Believe it or not, the FIS Snowboard World Cup Big Air “season” will reach its halfway mark this Saturday at Modena (ITA)!

That’s because the first of the four-event seasonal slate was held at Cardrona (NZL) in late August, with Chris Corning (USA), Red Gerard (USA) and Kalle Jarvilehto (FIN) taking the men’s medals and Enni Rukajarvi (FIN), Katie Ormerod (GBR) and Silje Norendal (NOR) on the women’s podium.

Last year’s seasonal medalists were Takeru Otsuka (JPN), Corning and Jarvilehto for the men and Japan’s Reira Iwabuchi and Miyabi Onitsuka for the women, with Klaudia Medlova (SLO) taking the bronze. Look for results here.

Otsuka is out with injury, but Canada’s Mark McMorris – a two-time Olympic Slopestyle medalist – is back from frightful injuries suffered in March 2017. Back in action for the women will be Austria’s 2018 Olympic Big Air winner Anna Gasser – hurt most of last season – and American Jamie Anderson, the PyeongChang silver medalist, who has concentrated more on Slopestyle, but is scheduled to compete in Modena.

● SHORT TRACK ● ISU World Cup season bows in Salt Lake City

The six-stage ISU Short Track World Cup will start this weekend at the Utah Olympic Oval with competition from Friday through Sunday. Last season’s medalists included:

500 m: 1. Hyi-Jun Lim (KOR), 31,439; 2. Dajing Wu (CHN), 30,000; 3. Sam Girard (CAN), 26,434.

1,000 m: 1. Ji-Won Park (KOR), 37,250; 2. Kyung-Hwan Hong (KOR), 24,459; 3. Shaoang Liu (HUN), 23,277.

1,500 m: 1. Gun-Woo Kim (KOR), 38,000; 2. Steven Dubois (CAN), 23,040; 3. June-Seo Lee (KOR), 22,515.

500 m: 1. Natalia Maliszewska (POL), 40,800; 2. Martina Valcepina (ITA), 39,216; 3. Lara van Ruijven (NED), 35,216.

1,000 m: 1. Suzanne Schulting (NED), 40,000; 2. Sofia Prosvirnova (RUS), 29,695; 3. Alyson Charles (CAN), 26,640.

1,500 m: 1. Schulting (NED), 34,400; 2. Ji-Yoo Kim (KOR), 29.277; 3. Min-Jeong Choi (KOR), 28,192.

The women’s events, especially between Schulting and a fully-recovered Choi, winner of 14 World Championships medals from 2015-19, but who was injured much of last season.

The men’s events will be focused on whether anyone can beat the Koreans, who swept the individual honors in last season’s World Cup and all six events at the World Championships! The best bet might be Chinese sprinter Wu, the 2018 Olympic 500 m winner.

Look for results here.