Totsuka was joined on the podium by his Japanese teammate Raibu Katayama who placed second, as the 25 year-old who missed all of the 2019/20 season due to injury returned to the World Cup podium for the first time in over three years.
Beginning with a frontside 1080 tail grab, Katayama then stomped a switch frontside double 1440 weddle, a frontside 900 melon, a backside double 1260 weddle, and a frontside double 1080 indy for a score of 86.75 to announce his return to the upper echelon of halfpipe riding.
Third place for the men went to Germany’s Andre Hoeflich, as the 23 year-old who seems to be improving with every run we see him drop in on finally made his way onto his first career World Cup podium with a standout second run.
Boasting the loftiest consistent amplitude of the day, Hoeflich started things off with a switch backside air amongst the biggest you’re likely to ever see, before stomping a switch frontside double cork 1080 indy, a frontside double cork 1260 indy, a backside 900 weddle, and finally frontside double 1080 that earned him a score of 84.00 and had the select crowd of coaches, riders and organisation crew in the finish area buzzing.
“First of all I could never be more stoked about the outcomes of today’s competition,” Hoeflich said when the results were all in, “It’s my first podium, it’s big names in the final. I’m so stoked for what just happened and I can’t really believe it actually happened. My riding felt pretty good, it took a lot in the last two weeks that we’ve spent here, [I’ve] developed so much in this halfpipe and it was very difficult in the beginning and now I feel very comfortable. Gained some height, gained some amplitude and just did my tricks and yeah, I just feel good.”
Fourth place on the day and a most honourable mention goes to the aforementioned Shaun White, who in his first competition since his gold medal performance at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games earned a score of 81.50 and the best US men’s result of the day.
And just like that, the 2020/21 FIS Snowboard halfpipe World Cup season was over, and once the awards were handed out and the interviews wrapped it was off the hill at Buttermilk and onto the long journey home for most. And though there were no crystal globes to hand out in this pandemic shortened season, the winter of 2020/21 ended on a high nonetheless, as the fact that we had all been able to be on site for two incredible weeks in Aspen to celebrate snowboarding was accomplishment most never would have counted on at the season’s outset.
Kudos, congratulations, and thank you to everybody involved, from the athletes and teams on hand, to the staff, volunteers, and organization at Aspen Snowmass, and to our friends at the US Ski & Snowboard Team for making such a remarkable set of events an overwhelming success.