Katerina Vojackova on the in-run. Photo: Sam Mellish
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Slopestyle may still be new to the Games (complete with teething problems), but no Olympic event is as wet-behind-the-ears as Big Air.
Of course, outside of the five-ring cycle, there have been Big Air comps since the first snowboarders realised that jumping off the biggest thing they could find would probably get them laid. Events like the X Games and Air + Style were born, and it’s now a staple of the contest circuit.
Frustratingly, however, women’s Big Air spent several years in the wilderness. Both of the aforementioned blue riband events neglected to run a women’s division – a bad move in itself, but one that also had a detrimental effect on slopestyle, as traditionally the big tricks from that event are honed in Big Air first.
“Women’s Big Air spent several years in the wilderness”
Whatever you think of the IOC, it was only when they started sniffing around for new, ‘youth-friendly’ events that the FIS tour jump-started women’s Big Air. Eventually –
and belatedly – X Games and A+S followed suit.
Sure enough, the increase in elite events has done wonders for the overall standard, with double corks becoming the order of the day in just a short few years. Austria’s Anna Gasser has emerged as the dominant force in Big Air, showing a consistency that plays very well in the ‘three jumps, best two count, must be spun in different directions’ format.
After the disappointment of the earlier event, the riders know that this has the potential to be the showcase they deserve. We’re expecting to see them go all in.