Olympians and Junior World Champions have graced the ski cross podium in recent year at The BRITS but it was a host of teenagers which took centre stage today in an event which rewarded raw speed over cunning and tactics.
With conditions closing in, there was always the chance the ski cross titles would be determined by qualifying times alone, and so it ended up with the weather causing the cancellation of the head to head knockout rounds.
In the end it was a genuine young gun, 13-year-old Octavia Steiger who set the fastest qualifying time (57.77) which was enough to earn her top spot on the podium.
She edged Emily Keen (58.93) by just over a second while Imogen Smith (1:00.42) was third).
The race was good, conditions were tough but I thought I handled them well and it was very fun,” said Steiger. “The course was fun, it was different to last year which was good. It was challenging; it was a bit slow given the conditions but it was good.
“It was hard because it all had to be done on qualification times which is difficult. It’s hard because you don’t know where you are compared to everyone else but I think everyone handled it fairly well today.
British Junior World Championships representative cast a dominant figure in the men’s ski cross qualifying with his first run qualifying time of 53.67 setting an advantage of almost three seconds on the rest of the field.
While Tommy Dade (55.40) closed the margin by more than a second on the final run, Bingham’s time stood strong to hold onto the gold medal. Patrick Young (57.55) was a further two seconds back in third.
“I thought the course was really great,” said Bingham. “A great competition as always and such a good way to finish off the season.
“I’m delighted to be British champion. I took part in the Junior Worlds in Austria before this so it was just a great way to finish off the season.”
In big air with a big weather front on the horizon, it was hoped that it would only affect one day of competition, but the early arrival of the wind shortened today’s Picture Big Air British Championship to one breezy run.
Battling the elements and coming out on top were 2018 champions Billy Cockrell and Mia Brookes.
A cloudy morning welcomed riders on the Crap Sogn Gion, but as they cleared it looked as though conditions would be favourable for competition on Laax’s biggest hits. With a short delay to allow more practice, the big guns showed that they were firing, and the crowds and riders were amped for more in the competition.
But it wasn't to be.
As the runs progressed, flags began to extend and by the time the biggest names in men’s UK kicker-riding dropped, they could not reach the speeds required for the largest kicker, limiting their air time. But what they lost in amplitude, they added in style, and all those who stood on the podium did so deservedly.
In the men’s contest it was close but no cigar for Matt McCormick, who took the silver as history repeated itself for the man ahead of him. Both McCormick and victor Billy Cockrell pulled backside 720 mutes off the medium kicker, but Cockrell’s was deemed the cleaner by a tiny margin. Just a single point split the GB Park+Pipe athletes, highlighting the strength and depth in the squad.
Fraser Jamieson took the bronze medal with a cranked 720 japan.
“I was happy with the win today, it was hard conditions and they weren’t the same as last years, so a very different comp,” said Cockrell, named by GB Park+Pipe coaches as their most improved rider of 2019. “Still a good one and great to shred with everyone.”
The women’s contest had the advantage of dropping first, and most of the riders avoided the higher winds that later stopped the contest. Making full use of her place at the stop of the start list was 12-year-old phenom Mia Brookes who stomped a huge backsdie 720, opening the contest in style and nailing the win for the second year on the trot.
Silver went to yesterday’s boardercross champ Maisie Hill, who’s towering frontdside 540 wasn’t clean enough to overhaul Brookes. Bronze went to the 2018 slopestyle champ Cerys Allen, who will be looking to add to her medal collection when we return to the Laax snowpark later in the week.
Brookes, who invested last year’s winnings in some new Lego, was asked what she would do with this prize: “Buy a car, a mark 1 VW Caddy! And I’m gonna fill the back with Star Wars Lego…”
Having lost the title he had held for three years, BBC’s Ed Leigh was looking for redemption after his boardercross result yesterday. With a go big or go home mentality, he dropped into the Masters category and showed that dads can still get rad with an enormous laid out backflip over the sizeable medium kicker. With wins for his wife Sian and daughter Suki in the women’s masters and under 16s respectively, and a silver for son Oscar, it will be the household to celebrate