Flying Kangaroos, Swirling Greeks and a US Trophy Bonanza — FIS World Cup Weekend Recap

Julia Schneemann | | Industry NewsIndustry News
Aerials Deer Valley, UT | Picture: FIS Freestyle Instagram Account

The only FIS Alpine World Cup event this weekend was the men’s Slalom in Chamonix, France. The race finished with two Swiss medals and a surprise silver for Alexandros Ioannis ‘AJ’ Ginnis from Greece at Saturday’s Slalom race. While Gold went to Ramon Zenhäusern and Bronze to Daniel Yule from Switzerland, it was the first-ever Greek Slalom podium that everyone was talking about at Chamonix.

The emotional Ginnis said in an interview in fluent German: “It is just incredible. A dream. Incredible.” AJ is the son of a Greek ski instructor and an American mother who learned to ski on Mt Parnassos, Greece. At 12 years of age, he moved to Austria, where his father worked. At 15, he moved to Vermont and joined the Green Mountain Valley School. At 17, he became a member of the US Ski Team and competed for the American flag for several seasons. After a string of injuries and a pause in racing due to Covid-19, he was approached by the Greek ski team. Coincidentally the US discontinued financial support, and AJ started skiing under the Greek flag from the 21/22 season.

US/Greek skier AJ Ginnis (left) and Swiss skiers Ramon Zenhäusern and Daniel Yule celebrating their podium at Chamonix, France | Picture: AJ Ginnis Instagram Page

Skiing at the Chamonix Slalom race for Team US was Jett Seymour in 7th and Luke Winters in 12th. Current World Cup leader in Slalom, Norway’s Lucas Braathen, had to undergo an emergency appendectomy. It is currently unsure if he will be fit enough to compete at the World Championships next week.

While the majority of Alpine skiers are getting ready for the FIS World Championships in the French resorts of Courchevel and Méribél next week from February 6, 2023, the Freestyle skiers and boarders had another jam-packed weekend. The Freestyle ski calendar was packed with Moguls, Aerials, Halfpipe, and Slopestyle, as well as snowboard Halfpipe and Slopestyle.

In Deer Valley, Mogul and Aerial skiers continued their 22/23 FIS Freestyle World Cup season. The Mogul series consisted of a singles event on Friday and a duals event on Sunday. The aerials were held between those two on Saturday, February 4, 2023.

The podium on Friday was dominated by the Australians, with Jakara Anthony and Matt Graham taking out Gold in the single moguls. Second place in the men’s went to Canada’s Mikael Kingsbury, second place in the women’s went to Jaelin Kauf from Team USA, while third place went to France for both the men and women with Benjamin Cavet and Perrine Lafont on the bottom step of the podium. Results for Team USA, in general, were very strong, with Hanna Soar qualifying for both finals and Tess Johnson, Alli Macuga, Elizabeth Lemley, Kasey Hogg, and Olivia Giaccio qualifying for the first of two finals. In moguls, the top 16 skiers qualify for the first final, and only the top six skiers advance to the second final.

Double Australian podium with Jakara Anthony and Matt Graham taking Gold in the moguls at Deer Valley, Silver went to North Americans Mikael Kingsbury and Jaelin Kauf, while Bronze went to France’s Perrine Laffont and Benjamin Cavet | Picture: Snow Australia Instagram Page

The next night ‘Flying Kangaroo’ Danielle Scott from Australia reclaimed her yellow bib in Aerials with a triple back lay-full-full, scoring 115.20 points. The jump score put the Australian miles ahead of second-placed Marion Thenault from Canada and Fanyu Kong from China. US aerial skier Kaila in fourth place, narrowly missed out on the podium while Winter Vinecki came 7th, Megan Smallhouse 12th, Ashley Caldwell 15th, Dani Loeb 20th, Karenna Elliott 22nd, and Amelia Glogowski 23rd.

Team USA aerial skier results were as follows: Derek Krueger 9th, Connor Curran 13th, Justin Schoenefeld 19th, Quinn Dehlinger 20th, Ian Schoenwald 21st, and Ashton Salwan 31st. First place in the men’s aerials went to 21-year-old Ukrainian Dmytro Kotovskyi, who landed the hardest trick in aerial skiing known as “The Hurricane” — a triple backflip —  earning the highest point score in World Cup history with 138.32 points. Second and third place went to China, Tianma Li and Shuo Chen, respectively.

Danielle Scott
Danielle Scott, member of the Australian Aerials Team, known as ‘The Flying Kangaroos,’ after her World Cup winning jump at Deer Valley, UT | Picture: C. Segalini Instagram Account

On Sunday, attention returned to the moguls field in Deer Valley, with the Duals going down in a buzzing night event. The women’s duals were won by Perrine Laffont, while Silver and Bronze went to Team USA’s Jaelin Kauf and Hannah Soar, respectively. The Men’s Duals was won by Mikael Kingsbury, who beat the Australian in an action-packed final. Unfortunately, Matt Graham lost control just before the second jump of the big final, and his run ended with a puff of snow flying across the jump instead of a skier, relegating the Australian to second. Third place went to Olympic champion Walter Wallberg from Sweden.

Also, in the US, a bit further west at Mammoth Mountain, CA, the Men’s and Women’s Halfpipe and Slopestyle events were held. The men’s halfpipe skiing podium was dominated by North Americans, with Gold and Bronze going to Team USA, Birk Irving winning and David Wise in third, and Silver going to Canada’s Brendan Mackay. Fourth place went to Tristan Feinberg from the US and fifth to Dylan Marineau from Canada. The women’s top five was a bit more international but still featured a lot of North Americans, with Kexin Zhang from China in first, UK’s Zoe Atkin in second, Canada’s Rachael Karker in third, and her teammate Amy Fraser in fourth, and US freeskier Hanna Faulhaber in fifth. The women’s crystal globe went to Rachael Karker — her career first. This marks the end of the 22/23 Halfpipe World Cup season, and the crystal globe goes to Birk Irving — the first of his career.

Karker Irving
Winners of the 22/23 Halfpipe Crystal Globe: Rachael Karker (CAN) and Birk Irving (USA) | Picture: FIS Freestyle

In Slopestyle, Norway’s Birk Ruud took away the win with teammate Sebastian Schjerve in second and Switzerland’s Andri Ragettli in third. Marc Forehand from the US came fourth, and Noah Morter Maclennan from Canada came fifth. In women’s Slopestyle, Johanne Killi from Norway walked away with Gold, Silver went to UK’s Kirsty Muir, and Bronze to New Zealand’s Ruby Star Andrews.

Mammoth Mountain was also home to Snowboarding, Slopestyle, and Halfpipe. Unfortunately, due to strong winds, the finals had to be canceled, and Wednesday’s qualification results became the final results. The Women’s Halfpipe was won by Mitsuki Ono from Japan, with second place going to Xueting Cai from China and third place going to Maddie Mastro from the USA. Men’s Halfpipe medals went to Ruka Hirano from Japan, Valentino Guseli from Australia, and Chase Blackwell from the US.

Snowboard Slopestyle results were strong for the US Freestyle team, with a Gold medal going to Julia Marino, Reira Iwabuchi winning Silver, and Annika Morgan winning Bronze. Dusty Henricksen from Team USA won Gold, Valentino Guseli won Silver, and Chris Corning from Team USA won Bronze.

The FIS Freestyle World Cup will have a last week of events next week, consisting of Snowboard Halfpipe and Slopestyle in Calgary, Canada, Dual Moguls in Chiesa in Valmalenco, Italy, and SkiCross in Reiteralm, Austria, before pausing to make way for the FIS Freestyle World Championships in Bakuriani, Georgia, from February 19 to March 5, 2023.

Dusty Henricksen
Dusty Henricksen winning Gold at Deer Valley, UT | Picture: Dusty Henricksen Instagram Account

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