It was a dog fight to the top of the podium of the freeski big air contest Thursday night with athletes one-upping each other in their three runs at the finals event.
New Zealand's Josiah Wells, Telluride's Gus Kenworthy, Tom Wallisch (Pittsburgh, Penn.), Switzerland's Kai Mahler and Sweden's Henrik Harlaut landed spots among 12 contestants in the envied finals heat. There, they battled it out for the win in the winter Dew Tour's inaugural freeski big air event, with victory going to the skier with the best score of three final runs. Kai Mahler landed an undisputed 97.00 with a switch double misty double japan grab and gaining huge air, much to the crowd's delight.
"It was the first time I ever did that trick," the Swiss skier said. "It was a super cool jump, one of the best I have ever jumped in my life."
Mahler took the lead early with a 93.25 on a jump with amplitude, depth and rotation. Everyone else started with scores in the 80s in the first heat. Wells landed a 69.75 in the first round and never really stepped it up to finish.
Meanwhile, in round 2, Kenworthy cleaned up with huge height, adding a tail grab and sneaking ahead to first place with a 94.50. But then Henrik took his smile and pink helmet down the ramp to boot into his butter takeoff and a 94.75 score.
Heading into the third round, Kenworthy bested himself for the third time in three runs for a 95.75 and another first-place spot, only to be bested by Mahler's final run, which wowed the crowd both with its style and score. Harlaut wasn't able to throw a trick that impressed the judges as much as his second round, and he finished with a 91.50 on the third run.
1. Kai Mahler - 97.00
2. Gus Kenworthy - 95.75
3. Henrik Harlaut - 94.75
4. Josiah Wells - 87.75
5. Tom Wallisch - 87.50