“This honestly means so much to me,” Baird saw from the finish area, “First World Cup win, and to do it in Canada, with my dad here watching…this is the first time he’s ever seen me ride in person at a World Cup and I’m just so hyped that he was here for this one. To be here, with this crowd, in Canada, I’m so hyped. This is such a sick night.”
Behind Baird it was Belgian rider Evy Poppe having the performance of her young career, as the 18-year-old stomped a backside 720 weddle and a frontside 720 frontside grab for a score of 146.50. Poppe was a true force throughout the week in Edmonton, fearlessly attacking the Style Experience jump in every session, and the runner-up result she earned for her first career World Cup podium was a just reward.
Finally, it was Iwabuchi shaking off the effects of her first-hit fall to grab third place, as the tough-as-nails 20-year-old battled out a landing on her frontside double 900 on run number two, before before putting down a backside 720 on her third and final run for a score of 143.35 and her 12th career World Cup podium.
With Baird and Iwabuchi trading places on the podium after Iwabuchi won and Baird came third at the big air World Cup season opener in Chur, the two are now tied atop the big air World Cup standings with 160 points.
GUSELI MAKES HISTORY WITH FIRST WORLD CUP WIN
While a collection of some of the absolute biggest names from the top nations in big air snowboarding were amongst the 10 riders dropping in on the finale of The Style Experience on Saturday evening, in the end it would be 17-year-old Valentino Guseli walking away with his first career World Cup victory and the first big air win in World Cup history for a rider from Australia.
While Guseli rose to prominence as a halfpipe rider after setting the pipe air world record two years ago, he has since proven himself to be the purest triple threat in competitive snowboarding, capturing his first World Cup podium last year at the Silvaplana slopestyle World Cup, before earning his first World Cup win in dramatic fashion in Edmonton.
However, it was Chris Corning of the USA who set the initial tone for the men, as on the very first hit of the competition he launched a backside triple cork 1800 melon that was quite simply the finest trick put down by anybody at any point throughout the week. And, with a score of 93.50, Corning was duly awarded for that effort.
Guseli, meanwhile, had a slightly sketchy landing on his first-run backside triple cork 1620 drunk driver (weddle + stale grabs) for a score in the low 60’s. Despite this, he went to his second trick on run two and stomped an outrageously stylish, clean frontside double cork 1440 with a boned-out weddle that earned him an 85.50 and a shot at the podium with a good effort in his final run.
Guseli gave more than a good effort, however, returning to the backside triple 16 and stomping it to the bolts, earning himself a score of 87.00, a combined score of 172.50, and first place with just a few riders left to drop in.