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Canada sweeps snowboard big air titles to close world championships

Mark McMorris

ASPEN, COLORADO - MARCH 14: Mark McMorris of Canada ompetes in the men’s snowboard big air qualifier during Day 5 of the Aspen 2021 FIS Snowboard and Freeski World Championship at Buttermilk Ski Resort on March 14, 2021 in Aspen, Colorado. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

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Mark McMorris is a seven-time X Games Aspen snowboard champion with a record 20 Winter X Games medals overall, but he won his first world championship on Tuesday.

McMorris was part of a Canadian sweep of the men’s and women’s big air titles on the final day of the world freestyle skiing and snowboarding championships in Aspen, Colorado. Laurie Blouin took the women’s gold.

In big air, an athlete’s top two scores, throwing different tricks, among three runs are added together for a final score.

McMorris, the two-time Olympic slopestyle bronze medalist, landed two different 1620s for 92.75 and 86.50 points, respectively. His outscored countryman Max Parrot, who came back from a cancer diagnosis to win the 2020 X Games big air, by one point. Norwegian Marcus Kleveland took bronze, four days after winning the world title in slopestyle.

Judd Henkes, the lone American in the final, took seventh.

Canadian Sebastien Toutant, who won big air’s Olympic debut in 2018, failed to qualify for the final

Last year, McMorris broke Shaun White’s record for most Winter X Games medals across all sites, including Europe. This past January, he missed X Games Aspen for the first time since his debut in 2011 at age 17, forced out due to a positive coronavirus test.

He returned to Aspen for the world championships, failing to make the slopestyle final but sticking around to compete in big air at worlds for the first time since 2013.

Blouin, the 2018 Olympic slopestyle silver medalist, landed two different double cork 1080s for 88 and 89.75 points, respectively. She edged slopestyle world champion Zoi Sadowski-Synnott of New Zealand by one point.

Japanese Miyabi Onitsuka took bronze. Missing the podium: Austrian Olympic champion Anna Gasser (fourth) and American Jamie Anderson, who owns both Olympic slopestyle titles and finished seventh on Tuesday.

Big air marked the last day of world championships in skiing and snowboarding events across all disciplines. The remaining winter sports world championships are in figure skating (next week), curling (April and May) and ice hockey (May and June).

Top U.S. snowboarders and freeskiers will stay in Aspen for the U.S. Grand Prix, the first 2022 Olympic qualifying event, later this week. A full TV and live stream schedule is here.

Earlier, ski big air produced two unheralded world champions.

Oliwer Magnusson became the first Swede to win a world freeskiing title, landing two different double cork 1800s for 94.25 and 91 points, respectively.

He edged 18-year-old Canadian Edouard Therriault by .25 of a point. Swiss Kim Gubser took bronze, .75 of a point ahead of American Mac Forehand. None of the men’s medalists made the podium at any previous X Games or world championships.

Swiss Andri Ragettli, the social media video sensation who won the X Games big air in January and slopestyle world title on Saturday, placed sixth.

Anastasia Tatalina and Lana Pruskova gave Russia a historic one-two in the women’s event. A Russian never before placed in the top five of a world championships freeski final. But Tatalina, 20, landed two different double cork 1260s for 93 and 91.5 points, respectively, to distance her countrywoman by 19 points.

Chinese Eileen Gu, who swept the halfpipe and slopestyle titles last week and at January’s X Games, took bronze, just as she did at X Games. No Americans made the final.

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