Who says there are no surprises in competitive snowboarding anymore? At the ARAG Festival, the second stop of the FIS World Cup Big Air circuit, no-one could have predicted who'd make the podium. There may have been a few heavy hitters missing - most notably the dominant Anna Gasser - but the winners still had to fend off a stacked field of seasoned riders.
Christy Prior proved that her injury woes are behind her, taking third place with a frontside 7 off the toes followed by a double backflip. Given how much we love her method, it was nice to hear that she opted to tweak one out on her third hit.
Meanwhile Miyabi Onitsuka did just enough to hang on to her cab 9 - if you're going to claim, it might as well be for narrowly avoiding a smashed face, so we'll let that go - and added a back 7 to take silver.
"We've still not seen a proper showdown between the Big Air favourites"
Switzerland's Carla Somaini was the eventual winner, and a deserved one too. Not only did she spin both frontside and backside 7s, they were comfortably bigger than those put down by her rivals. Also, when was the last time you saw a Sims board on the top of the podium? Those guys must be stoked.
If you want a heart-in-mouth moment, check out how close she got to the edge of the jump on her front 7 take-off. Sketchy!
As with the women's event, we've still not seen a proper showdown between the men's Big Air favourites. While Marcus Kleveland missed Beijing, Mark McMorris was a no-show for ARAG (and Max Parrot didn't attend either). This was a comfortable win for the Norwegian wunderkind, with new tour leader Yuri Okubo pipping Kalle Jarvilehto (nope, us neither) in the race for second place.
Next up is the Copper Mountain stop, which may attract a few more North American riders. We'll have the highlights here, so stay tuned.