The Oakley Air & Style event certainly lived up to its billing as the riders pulled off some immense technically challenging jumps, pushing the boundaries and creating history.
As 24 riders set off head-to-head bringing some close battles, the most notable epic clash was between Mathias Weissenbacher and Mark McMorris.
Both riders laid down stylish backside 10’s with McMorris edging out Weissenbacher by a single point. However, the Austrian’s run saw him through to next round as one of the four “lucky losers”.
Last year’s winner Ulrik Badertscher was a first round casualty, losing his head to head battle against Bergrem who in turn lost in the semi’s to the eventual winner.
Peetu Piiroinen received a bye, but still smashed the highest score of the 1st round with a cab 1260 double cork melon.
The highlight of the second round saw Stale Sandbech pull of a sweet backside 1440 to narrowly beat Truchon despite his near perfect switch backside 1260 double cork.
The pick of the Semi final first runs went to Sandbech with his backside 1440 mute and the youngest competitor, Japan’s Kadono who at 16, landed an amazing backside 1260 mute.
The second run saw Kotsenburg’s highly impressive backside double cork 1080 with a classic Japan grab, which was massively appreciated by the crowd. In the third and final run, McMorris pulled off an immense triple cork backside 1440, the first ever to be landed at an Air & Style event.
However, there was a slight drag of his trailing hand on his landing, which some may say unfairly saw the judges mark him down.
The end of the semi’s saw Piiroinen, Weissenbacher, Sandbech and Kadono line up for an intense Super Final.
Weissenbacher appeared tired, failing to land any of his three runs. Sandbech was impressive and by far the most consistent rider throughout the entire competition. The pick of his final runs, his backside 1440 mute scoring him a whopping 92.0, which saw him lead the competition into the third and final runs.
Despite failing to land his first two runs of the final, Piiroinen stomped a massive cab 1260 melon, taking the lead with a score of 93.3. Enter centre stage the young pretender to the throne, Yuki Kadono who on his last attempt became the second rider in the history of Air & Style to land a triple cork backside 1440 mute.
Despite also a slight drag of his trailing hand the judges overlooked this, scoring his run 97.6 to take 1st place and the title. Controversy reigned as many saw similarities between Kadono’s winning run and that of the almost identical jump by McMorris in the semi’s, which the judges saw fit to mark down because of the hand drag.
Despite the controversy, what can’t be denied is that the top three podium places produced some epic, stylish and technically brilliant jumps. Judging inconsistencies apart, Kadono deserved his win for his sheer bravery to attempt the challenging triple cork on his final run where many would have played it safe to purely make the podium.