US Freestyle Skier Troy Podmilsak Wins Gold at Big Air World Championships in Bakuriani, Georgia, While France’s Ledeux Redeems Herself in Women’s Big Air

Julia Schneemann | | Industry NewsIndustry News
Podmilsak Ledeux
Freeski Big Air World Champions Troy Podmilsak and Tess Ledeux. | Picture: FIS Freestyle Instagram Account

The Bakuriani 2023 FIS Freestyle World Championships closed out on Saturday, March 4, 2023, with the always exciting Big Air event in Freeski and Snowboard. Unlike Slopestyle, which features a whole course with jumps and features, skiers and boarders in Big Air are judged on a single big jump, and the two best runs out of three are added together for the final score.

The Big Air had been scheduled for Sunday but had to be moved up to Saturday due to incoming bad weather. The qualifying events had been held the previous day, and the only finalist from Team USA was 18-year-old Troy Podmilsak, who had scraped into the Finals in the last spot. The teenager made history by becoming the first American to win Big Air Gold, with mindblowing runs that even had the judges momentarily flummoxed.

Podmilsak kicked off the Finals with a switch-right-double-bio-1980-safety in his first run, scoring a solid 91.25. On his second run, the 18-year-old put down a right-triple-cork-2160-mute that was so clean that the judges mistakenly took it as an 1800-mute. After a brief review, the score was adjusted to 96.50, the highest score for any freeskier that day. The combined score of 187.75 catapulted the young American ahead of his competition, relegating Austria’s Lukas Müllauer to Silver, who became the second-ever freeskier to land a 2160 in a FIS-competition, while Norway’s Birk Ruud won Bronze, who stomped a switch-left-triple-cork-1980-mute on his first run and a left-double-bio-1800-mute in his second run.

“That was the first time I’ve ever done it (the triple 2160),” admitted Podmilsak, “I did it on the air bag a few times and didn’t really land it. I just went for the win today. I didn’t want to get second place – I just wanted to win. That’s the first time I’ve ever really landed it, ever. I actually did not think I would be world champion here. I thought maybe a few years down the road. It feels good, and I’m really proud of myself. I can’t even really believe it. It almost feels like a dream to me. I’m proud of myself and proud of my team. We worked really hard for this.”


Meanwhile, in the Women’s Big Air, France’s Tess Ledeux, who had suffered a horrific-looking crash in the Slopestyle days before, redeemed herself by stomping a left-double-cork-1620-safety that would earn her the highest score of the day in the women’s competition, and a switch-left-double-cork-1260-safety, that she had never previously attempted in competition. With a combined score of 186.75, the French skier was out of reach for her competitors and took home the Gold. Norway’s Sandra Eie won Silver with 175.00, and Canada’s Megan Oldham took home the Bronze.

In snowboarding, Anna Gasser from Switzerland won Gold with a combined score of 162.50, while Miyabi Onitsuka won Silver with 161.25 points. Australia’s Tess Coady won Bronze with 153.25 points. It is her first Big Air medal at a large international event after winning podiums in Slopestyle at the Olympics, X-Games, and 2021 World Championships.

The Men’s snowboarding medals went to Taiga Hasegawa from Japan in first place with 177.25 points, miles ahead of Norway’s Mons Roisland in second and Switzerland’s Nicolas Huber in third place, who scored 157.25 and 150.50 points, respectively. US snowboarder Chris Corning, who had won Bronze in the Slopestyle competitions earlier this week, did not start in the Big Air competition after crashing in training on the day of qualifiers.

“Well, I won’t be competing in bir air today. Even though the impact to my head was limited, my whiplash was bad enough, that we feel it’s best not to ride. I am happy, I am okay and ready for the next contest,” Corning posted on his Instagram Account.

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