In a riveting showdown at the Utah Olympic Park, the second stop of the FIS Freestyle Ski Summer Grand Prix series delivered a captivating display of aerial prowess and competitive spirit.
Qualifications set the stage with Kaila Kuhn (USA) soaring ahead in the women’s category, executing a remarkable back Full-Full-Full. On the men’s side, Wang Xindi (CHN) showcased his mastery with a double Full-Full double Full, securing the top spot.
However, the competition faced challenges as lightning and storms disrupted proceedings, allowing for just one round of finals to unfold.
In the women’s event, Canada’s Marion Thenault once again stole the spotlight, claiming victory with her Lay double Full-Full, amassing an impressive score of 110.18 points.
Marion Thenault expressed her enthusiasm for the competition and the valuable training it provides: “It’s been a lot of fun and it’s been a lot of good training for snow as well. We were in Switzerland last week, now coming here, having to adapt to a new ramp. It’s really good training and I’m really glad I could be on the first step up the podium again.
“Well, I’m really proud because I’ve been working very hard on that trick, Lay double Full-Full. And I did it, I think, even better than I did in Switzerland. So it’s getting better every week and I’m proud of the work I’m doing on it.”
Laura Peel of Australia secured the second position, mirroring her performance from Switzerland, executing a Full-Full-Full for a score of 108.18 points. China’s Chen Meiting rounded out the podium in third place with 102.31 points for her Lay-Full-Full.
On the men’s side, the contest was a nail-biting affair. Christopher Lillis, the hometown hero, escalated his game from his third-place finish in Mettmenstetten, rocketing to first place with a score of 133.00 for his double Full-Full double Full.
Christopher Lillis shared his excitement for the event’s evolution: “So this has been awesome. It’s been an event that we’ve been trying out and testing out in exhibitions around the world for about eight years, ten years, something like that. So, to be able to put it into a full-fledged tour where we’re traveling with each other is a blast.
“Well, I’m really excited about it. Unfortunately, our team won’t be making the trip to Australia, but I kind of am excited about the fact that I’m leading in the Grand Prix as of right now and, you know, just really exciting to win the home event. You know, this is our ramp. I’ve taken thousands of jumps off this ramp over my career. So every time everybody’s traveling into your ramp, you want to put on a good show. So I was just happy to be able to do that.”
China’s Zhang Yifan secured the second spot with his Full double Full double Full, earning him 132.60 points. Not to be outdone, Zhang’s teammate Wang Xindi secured third place, finishing with 132.09 points for his double Full-Full double Full.
Marion Thenault’s dual triumphs in the competition propelled her to the summit of the overall Grand Prix classification. Similarly, Christopher Lillis cemented his status as a frontrunner with a third-place finish and a victory after two exhilarating competitions.
As the tour moves forward, the excitement will travel to Australia for the next leg on September 9, at Brisbane’s Geoff Henke Olympic Winter Training Centre.
Header image: Credit: Ryan Odeja / U.S. Ski & Snowboard