2022 Beijing Olympics Silver medallist and 2021 Crystal Globe winner Tess Ledeux from France suffered a gnarly-looking crash during the Slopestyle Finals at the 2023 Freestyle World Championships in Bakuriani, Georgia, on Tuesday, February 28, 2023. The current leader of the Big Air World Cup had put down a smashing run and was looking sure to take the lead when she under-rotated on the last big jump of the Slopestyle course, hitting the ground with the tips of her skis, slamming the young skier face first into the landing.
The French freestyle skier did not move for a bit, and everyone feared the worst, but the 21-year-old picked herself up reluctantly and managed to ski to the side on her one remaining ski. She was feeling her face, and one had to wonder if she may have lost a tooth or two in her face-first crash.
Fearless, Ledeux went back for her second run, putting down an incredible run, but yet again, the last jump threw her up when she landed askew on one leg but managed to stay upright after spinning around once. She briefly contemplated continuing but realized her bid for a World Championship medal was futile. She threw her hands to her face in devastation as she skied out next to the course and was in tears in the finish area. What a gut-wrenching moment to watch. The Slopestyle skier had won Gold at the World Championships in Sierra Nevada in 2017 and the X-Games that same year at only 15 years of age. At the 2022 X Games, she won two Gold medals in Slopestyle and Big Air, becoming the first woman to land a cork-1620 in competition, making her one of the most promising young Freestyle skiers in the world.
Ledeux posted on her Instagram that she was okay post-crash, writing, “I had a very bad crash during my first run today. Luckily, more fear than damage”. We hope she has a chance for redemption in the Big Air competition at the end of the week.
The Gold went instead to Switzerland’s Mathilde Gremaud after a strong first run scoring 87.95 points. She skied her second run, Swiss flag in hand, knowing that irrespective of how it went, she would win Gold. So the Swiss put down a fun run instead with the Gold safely in her pocket. Silver went to Canada’s Megan Oldham with 87.75 points and Bronze to Norway’s Joanne Killi with 84.71 points.
In an interview, Beijing Olympic champion Gremaud said, “It was missing this World Championship title. Especially the year I had was kind of crazy, a big emotional rollercoaster, so this makes it worthwhile. We had the worst training [because of the weather], and there were many ups and downs, so in the end, I decided to preserve my energy, and I think it paid off.”
In the men’s Freeski Slopestyle, Noway’s Birk Ruud took home the Gold with 90.75. Second place went to his teammate Christian Nummedal who scored 87.08 points. Bronze went to Switzerland’s Andri Ragettli with 84.33 points. Hunter Henderson was the best American Freestyle skier, who came sixth with 81.45 points.
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