Maxence Parrot lands triple cork 1440 to win the 6-Star O'Neill Evolution in Davos.
Mind. Blown. Yesterday we mentioned how the absence of a raft of big name kicker specialists could have affected the quality of this contest. Bullshit. The riding was monumental and not only did Parrot put down the most textbook triple cork 1440 we've ever seen (even having the nonchalance to afterbang the landing), 15-year-old Kyle Mack manned up after a brutal slam to land a front 14 triple off the toes.
But let's rewind. Proceedings began with the girls' Big Air which was taken out by 14-year-old Japanese sensation Miyabi Onitsuka, sending a huge front 3 before polishing off the rails with a lipslide and a front board.
Next on the agenda was Gian Simmen's Legends Session in the pipe - a gathering of Gian's friends from his long career in pro shredding. With guys like Giom Morrissette, Pascal Imhof, Xaver Hoffmann, Michi Albin and more the session was full of huge straight airs, binding-creaking tweaks and a whole lot of style. For the ageing media scrum at least it was definitely a highlight of the event and served as a nice counterpoint to the stratospheric level of technical kicker riding that was to come as couple of hours later.
But as much as respecting the legends of snowboarding past is important, this game's fundamentally about the kids pushing the limits at the apex of the sport and there's no doubt that in the Big Air finals the level was pushed way the hell out there...
After his well-documented triple cork stomp in training we were expecting to see 18-year-old Maxence Parrot in the final and a flawless back 12 double later he'd netted the points he needed to ratchet up expectations of a triple-trading ender with teammate Seb Toutant. But, oh, drama! Clearly Kalle Järvilehto hadn't read the script and his saurian-sized back 12 double and front board through the kink saw Toutant and his cab 12 dub heading for a early bath. Kyle Mack had impressed in the earlier rounds and the 15-year-old Yank upped his game to take the third spot in the final with clean back 10 doubles and a front double toedeo edging him past Antonio Trouchon, while Emil Ulsletten rounded out the final spot, dispatching Swissman Markus Mathis with a solid front 10 double after a particularly brutal slam.
So, finals. Would we see a triple? O'Neill's beamer was asking the same question on the side of the jump and it didn't take long to answer. On his first run Parrot dropped, popped, dipped three times, spun round four times, and landed, albeit a tad sketchy. Everyone went nuts and some called it curtains for the rest. How could anyone match that? Turns out he could but they couldn't - on his last run Parrot landed another triple but totally perfect, even managing to give his stomp some afterbang. Insane. It feels lame describing guys who can land perfect doubles as also-rans, but with the triple landed that's essentially what Kalle and Emil became. Kyle Mack certainly came close, having a pop at the front 14 triple toedeo a la Jørn Simen Aabøe. He gave himself a proper beating but was undeterred, went backup and duly stomped it, causing the crowd to explode again. Maxence looked a little nervy waiting for Mack's score to drop, but the judges rightly penalised his slightly scuffed landing and the 25k went to the Canadian.
All in all, despite many opting for a FISting in Quebec, this edition of the O'Neill Evolution is one that will certainly live long in the memory. If this is becoming the benchmark then the future will be frankly silly. Thanks for the goodtimes, O'Neill.