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Monday, March 22, 2021

Monster Energy Riders Take Top Spots at 2021 FIS Snowboard World Championships

A historic week for snow sports is in the books! Monster Energy congratulates its snowboard athletes on a dominant performance at the 2021 FIS Snowboard World Championships on Buttermilk Mountain in Aspen, Colorado. During the seven-day competition featuring the world’s best freestyle snowboarders, the team claimed titles and podium spots in key disciplines with a total of three gold and three silver medals, plus one bronze medal.

The 2021 FIS Snowboard and Freeski World Championships saw 300 of the world’s best winter sports athletes from 37 countries compete for medals from March 10–16, 2021. The event was originally scheduled to take place in Zhangjiakou, China, in late February 2021. After cancellation, the FIS World Championships found a new home in Aspen Snowmass, USA. This marks the first time that a country has hosted consecutive FIS World Championships following the 2019 FIS World Championships in Utah.

Contested in a closed-to-the-public format amid stringent Covid-19 safety measures, the 2021 FIS Snowboard and Freeski World Championships included slopestyle, halfpipe, as well as the second annual Visa Big Air presented by Land Rover. With no spectators allowed on Buttermilk Mountain, live coverage was broadcast on NBC and the Olympic Channel, supplemented by streaming on Peacock.

Here’s how the action unfolded this weekend at the 2021 FIS Snowboard World Championships:

Snowboard Slopestyle: Monster Energy’s Zoi Sadowski-Synnott Wins World Championship, Jamie Anderson Takes Silver, Rene Rinnekangas Earns Men’s Slopestyle Bronze.

Amid spring weather and pristine slope conditions, Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle kicked off the action on Friday. The three-run final featured eight riders from as many countries, including athletes from New Zealand, Germany, Japan, and the United States. The downhill course boasted three jumps and three sets of rail obstacles, including a rail on a quarter pipe, with plenty of room for creative tricks.

The rivalry to watch unfolded between two Monster Energy riders: Anderson, fresh off a Slopestyle gold medal at X Games Aspen in January, and the defending FIS World Champion, 19-year-old Sadowski-Synnott f rom Wanaka, New Zealand.

Right from the start, it was 30-year-old Anderson from Lake Tahoe, California, who took the lead by posting a flawless first run, oozing with signature style and flow. In the rail section, the two-time Olympic gold medalist landed a long backside lipslide, technical boardslide 270 and difficult blunt 270. Anderson kept her momentum in the jump section, posting a backside rodeo 540 melon, Cab double 900 Weddle, and frontside 720 Weddle grab for a score of 81.10 points.

With Anderson commanding first place, Sadowski-Synnott had difficulty mustering a response. Although she came into the final as the top qualifier and reigning champ, the rookie lost the handle on the first two of three final runs. But with her back against the wall, the kiwi ripper posted a run for the history books.

On run three, Sadowski-Synnott worked the rails with switch boardslide to regular, bluntslide 270, and a perfect frontside boardslide 450 out. In the rail section, she threw down a huge switch backside 900 Weddle grab, frontside 720 melon, and a flawlessly stomped backside 1080 Weddle for 85.95 points and the win. Just like that, Sadowski-Synnott made history as the first snowboarder ever to claim back-to-back FIS World Snowboard Championships titles in Slopestyle.

“I fell in those first two runs and I was pretty bummed. But I knew if I landed my run, I’d have a good chance to take the top spot. It was a luxury to drop in last and I knew I could do those tricks and I just tried to get it done so I could defend the title. I’m so stoked!” said Monster Energy’s Sadowski-Synnott upon taking the FIS Snowboard Slopestyle World Championship in Aspen.

Finishing with a silver medal, Anderson had words of praise for her teammate. “I am genuinely so happy for Zoi. We’ve been battling all year, and that last run she put down was flawless. The future is in good hands. I am proud of her and all the girls,” said Anderson.

The Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle final was a high-stakes affair with twice the usual number of riders. Due to challenging weather during qualifications, a total of 16 riders moved on to the final. As a result, each contestant had only two runs instead of the usual three to take a shot at becoming the new World Champion.

When all was said and done, 21-year-old Rene Rinnekangas from Iisalmi, Finland, swiped yet another podium spot at a major competition. Mostly known for his outstanding video parts, including his gold medal entry in 2020’s X Game Real Snow competition, Rinnekangas held his own in the stacked finals and claimed bronze.

In signature fluid style, Rinnekangas impressed the FIS World Championships judges by putting down a melon transfer, frontside lipslide 270, frontside 270 to boardslide and a bluntslide 450 out in the rail section. Blasting into the jumps, he posted a switch double backside rodeo nose grab, backside 1620 melon and Cab 1440 nose grab for a total score of 82.51 points for third place. What’s more, Rinnekangas came within inches of claiming the silver medal, finishing a mere .02 points behind Canada’s Sebastian Toutant.

Don’t call Rinnekangas the next big podium threat just yet, but this career-first FIS World Championships medal arrives right on the heels of Slopestyle bronze at X Games Aspen 2021. He now owns three X Games medals (1 gold from Real Snow, 1 silver, 1 bronze). Keep an eye on this kid!

Snowboard Halfpipe: Monster Energy’s Chloe Kim Defends World Championship Title, Yuto Totsuka Takes Men’s Halfpipe World Championship.

The Monster Energy team’s dominant run continued on Saturday when the action moved into the Snowboard Halfpipe finals. With its 22-foot-tall walls and 550 feet length, the Superpipe on Buttermilk Mountain provided the backdrop for one of the most epic halfpipe competitions the sport has ever seen.

In the Women’s Snowboard Halfpipe final, the big story of the day was the return of Monster Energy team rider Chloe Kim. Although the 20-year-old snowboard phenom from Long Beach, California, had taken a break from competing in 2020 to pursue her studies at Princeton University, she was still the reigning FIS World Champion. And she was not going to let that change…

Fresh off a gold medal at X Games Aspen in January, the ‘Queen of the Superpipe’ continued her dominance in the sport. Amid less than perfect weather conditions, and despite a sprained ankle from practice, Chloe Kim showcased her versatile bag of tricks and talent for high aerials.

In the highest-scoring run of the final, the Olympic gold medalist started with a backside 360 Indy on the first wall, followed by a massive switch backside method air into a Cab frontside 1080, frontside 900 tail grab, and classic McTwist Indy grab on the last wall for 93.75 points and the gold medal.

“I am feeling really good. I am so grateful to be out here and happy the weather held up for the contest. Winning feels really good!” said Chloe Kim upon defending the FIS World Championship title in Aspen on Saturday.

Chloe Kim started her 2021 season with a first-place finish at the FIS World Cup LAAX Open in Switzerland, followed by Superpipe gold at X Games Aspen 2021. The Team USA winter sports athlete now owns eight X Games medals (6 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze) and has claimed medals at every single X Games she has entered since her debut at X Games Aspen 2014. She won her first U.S. Open halfpipe title in 2016 at age 15 and earned gold at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Chloe Kim was listed among the ‘Most Influential People of 2018’ by TIME Magazine and was the 2019 ESPY winner for Best Female Action Sports Athlete.

The Men’s Snowboard Halfpipe final boiled down to a historic duel: Monster Energy’s Yuto Totsuka from Yokohama, Japan versus defending champion Scotty James from Australia. James had held FIS World Championship gold for the past six years and came into the final with a chance to claim his fourth consecutive title. But the tables were about to turn. In the last three face-offs against James, 19-year-old Totsuka had gained the upper hand, most recently at X Games Aspen 2021 and Laax Open 2021.

As the ten-rider final got underway, James opened with a perfect run surpassing the 90-point threshold, while Totsuka struggled to post a flawless routine. But on Run 2, Totsuka claimed the lead on the strength of back-to-back double corks and maximum airtime for 93.00 points.

On his third and final run, Totsuka upped the ante by launching into a massive frontside double cork 1440, followed by a Cab frontside double cork 1260, into a switch backside double cork 1080, backside double cork 1260, and a perfectly stomped frontside double cork 1260 on the final wall to raise his score to 96.25 points for the win.

“I am happy now. A dream come true,” said Monster Energy’s Totsuka upon claiming the FIS Snowboard Halfpipe World Championship in Aspen on Saturday.

Becoming the new Men’s Snowboard Halfpipe World Champion brings Totsuka’s journey full circle. The two-time Japanese national halfpipe champion (2017 and 2019) has already earned FIS World Cup Crystal Globe wins in 2018 and 2019, as well as the coveted 2020 Burton U.S. Snowboard Open title. He also owns three X Games medals (1 gold, 2 silver) and is one of the drivers of halfpipe snowboarding’s evolution.

Snowboard Big Air: Monster Energy’s Zoi Sadowski-Synnott and Max Parrot Claim Silver

A long week of snowboard action ended on a high note with the Snowboard Visa Big Air presented by Land Rover on Tuesday. Amid overcast skies and fresh snow, the crew at Buttermilk Mountain worked in high gear to prepare the Big Air jump for the final session. Ultimately, the weather stabilized, and the world elite of male and female freestyle snowboarders put on a spectacular air show across the 70-foot gap jump.

The full progression of freestyle snowboarding was on display in the Women’s Snowboard Big Air final. Eight riders from across the globe, including defending FIS World Champion Anna Gasser, were looking to land the highest-scoring tricks with three attempts each, best two scores counting for the win.

As the final got underway, Japan’s Miyabi Onitsuka took an early lead, while Monster Energy’s Kokomo Murase followed closely behind by landing a backside double 1260 Weddle grab. Ultimately, Murase could not clinch the landing on her following tricks and finished outside the podium.

But as a certified podium threat, Monster Energy team rider Zoi Sadowski-Synnott stepped into the final with confidence and a big bag of tricks. Right from the start, Sadowski-Synnott secured the lead on her first run by landing a perfectly stomped frontside double 1080 melon for 92.00 points.

On her second attempt, she followed up with a huge backside double cork 1080 Weddle to bring her score to 176.75 points. Just when it looked like the World Championship title was a done deal, Sadowski-Synnott was leapfrogged by Laurie Blouin, edging ahead by just a single point. With everything riding on Run 3, Sadowski-Synnott tried to extend her score but could not stick a clean landing, settling for the silver medal.

As the newly minted FIS Snowboard Slopestyle World Champion, Sadowski-Synnott is having a standout 2021 season. Her epic run started with a Big Air victory at the FIS World Cup in Kreischberg, Austria, followed by Slopestyle silver and Big Air bronze at X Games Aspen 2021. Just recently, Sadowski-Synnott claimed a victory against the world’s best all-mountain freestyle snowboarders in the Natural Selection Tour competition at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (JHMR). She also made history by winning Slopestyle bronze at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, ending New Zealand’s 26-year medal drought and becoming a national hero.

The Men’s Snowboard Big Air final on Tuesday also came down to the wire, as twelve finalists went head-to-head for the coveted title of FIS Snowboard World Champion. Riders hailed from Australia, Canada, Finland, Italy, Japan, Sweden, Norway and the United States. With the best two run scores out of three deciding the winner, there was little room for error on the final session.

Monster Energy’s Max Parrot stepped into the final hungry to compete for a medal on the world stage again. The 26-year-old from Bromont, Canada, had experienced a tough season start because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. He was sidelined from competing at both the Laax Open in Switzerland and X Games Aspen 2021 in January because a fellow Canadian team member had tested positive for Covid-19.

But when the Big Air final kicked off in Aspen, Parrot was ready to continue where he left off last year: His close rivalry with fellow Canadian Mark McMorris, who took the lead on Run 1 by landing a technical switch triple 1620 stalefish. In response, Parrot fired back by landing a perfect frontside triple 1620 Weddle grab for 89.50 points.

On second attempts, Parrot went all-in with a quick-spinning Cab triple 1800 Indy that would have taken the top spot but ended up overrating upon landing. When it all came down to the last run, Parrot pulled a perfect Cab triple 1620 Indy for 88.75 points, which brought his final score to 178.25 points. Finishing a single point behind McMorris, Parrot wrapped his performance in the 2021 FIS World Championships with a silver medal.

Before the pandemic hit, Parrot claimed Big Air silver and Slopestyle gold at X Games Norway in March 2020. Considered one of the most technically advanced freestyle snowboarders, the eight-time X Games champion previously earned Slopestyle silver for Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. After a battle with Hodgkin Lymphoma cancer, Parrot made an emotional return to competition by winning Big Air gold at X Games Norway 2019.

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