Piiroinen claims victory in Big Air season’s opener
Right after the first Big Air of the 2009 Snowboard FIS World Cup it seems that the duel for the World Cup title, which played a major role in the last winters, goes into the next round.
In an enthralling final at Battersea Power Station in London, 2007 World Cup winner Peetu Piiroinen (FIN) took home the Gold medal with 51.9 points edging defending World Cup champion Stefan Gimpl (AUT) to the second spot (50.4). The podium of the first ever World Cup competition on British shores, which attracted 10,000 spectators with its top rider line-up to the event venue, was rounded out by Benedikt Nadig (45.4). The Swiss secured the third rank with a lead of only one tenth on Norway’s Roger Kleivdal.
Although Piiroinen as well as the whole Finish squad including stars like Risto Mattila and Markku Koski, who both missed the final just like Olympic Silver medallist Danny Kass (USA), was among the top aspirants for victory in the British capital, the 20-year-old winner remained modest as always. “It went really good but actually I didn’t expect this at all as I couldn’t get along with the small kicker and was too slow in the inrun. I couldn’t do my tricks but in the end I was doing better.”
This statement definitely was more than an absolute understatement considering the tricks he sticked in the snow on his way to his fifth World Cup triumph, the fourth in the Big Air discipline. A flawless “Cab 1080” was the prelude followed by a “Backside 900 Rodeo”, which didn’t count for the final score. The Finnish rider secured his triumph with his last “Cab 900” after the so far leading athlete from Belgium, Christophe Reynders, was only able to counter with his personal safety alternative – a “Frontside 540” – so he dropped down to the seventh spot.
Thus, runner-up Stefan Gimpl was full of praise for his contender: “Peetu was unbeatable today. He was the best in the final as he was the best in the qualifiers. Therefore, he deserved to win.” In contrary, Gimpl wasn’t pleased at all with his own performance although the reigning World Cup champion celebrated his career’s tenth podium. “I didn’t have the right feeling for the take-off. In the end, my last jump (“Frontside 900”) was a ‘life-saver’.” So much the better was his impression of the event: “That was outstanding. The location was wicked and the spectators were killing it. They definitely had a lot of understanding of what we were doing.”
Although Piiroinen and Gimpl were the dominating riders of the competition, it was a young US-American taking home the honour of winning the best trick of the day contest. Scotty Lago deservedly claimed victory as he sticked a phenomenal “Double Backflip late Backside 180” making the audience go nuts.
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