Big Air: World Champion meets WC title holder

It seems that the up-coming first has all the makings for an excellent debut: After a World Cup absence in France for almost four years, a French ski resort will host a Snowboard FIS World Cup Big Air for the first time on home turf.

Stefan Gimpl.  Foto: FIS - Oliver KrausThe event in Grenoble, which never hosted a WC stop before, additionally marks a turning point in the season. The snowboard show on December 6th, 2008, which will take place within the “Jeux de Neige” in the park Paul Mistral of the bidder for the 2018 Olympics, is the third of five Big Air contests of the 2009 season. According to this, the race for the Crystal Globe of the World Cup winner will get even more exciting.

In Grenoble, Austria’s Big Air dinosaur Stefan Gimpl gets the big chance of taking over the World Cup lead as the currently top-ranked Finn Peetu Piiroinen won’t compete. The World Cup title winner of 2006 and 2008 is only 150 points behind of the 2007 season’s best. Therefore, the 29-year-old would capture the Yellow Bib at least temporarily by finishing 15th (160 points). As also the currently third ranked winner of Stockholm Janne Korpi (FIN) won’t jump the kicker in Grenoble, Gimpl could not only take over the World Cup lead but also extend it by collecting a lot of points.

But this won’t be an easy task for the favourite from Austria as the reigning Big Air World Champion Mathieu Crepel prepares himself to turn on the style in his home country once again after his 2007 title. Although the 2006 Olympian missed all the Big Air World Cups after his World Championships triumph in Switzerland, he undisputedly is still in a marvellous class of his own.

Furthermore, both have to face a strong line-up with more than 50 riders coming from twelve countries. Within this international field, the Finnish rippers are – like always – among the aspirants for the title as Juuso Laivisto, Ville Uotila, Roope Tonteri and Petja Piiroinen have proven their skills and trick repertoire at several tour stops already. In addition, Niklas Askmyr and Kevin Baeckstroem (both SWE) as well as Norway’s Stian Aannestad, Kim Andre Eliasen and Per Iver Grimsrud are well experienced snowboarders who will get ready to rock Grenoble’s first in the park Paul Mistral. Besides the top athletes from the North, Alessandro Boyens (GER), Matevz Petek, Domen Bizjak (both SLO), Florian Mausser (AUT) as well as Benedikt Nadig and Stephan Maurer from Switzerland are aspiring justifiable podium results.

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Janne Korpi in Sweden.  Copyright: Oliver Kraus, FIS
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Kevin Pearce.  Copyright: Andrew Fawcett
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