Chris Corning wins slopestyle at Rev Tour, eyes return to top competitions
The Aspen Times
ASPEN — Chris Corning is becoming Mr. Consistent, and that could bode well for the Colorado snowboarder as the next Olympic cycle gets going in only a matter of weeks with the upcoming world championships and Grand Prix in Aspen.
“This is definitely the most consistent snowboarding I’ve been doing in a long time when it comes to competing, so I’m pretty stoked on that,” Corning said. “And coming off of X Games and coming off of this, I think I’ll be pretty ready for what the world champs and what the Grand Prix have to throw at me.”
Corning, a former Silverthorne resident who lives in Avon, was in Aspen Wednesday competing in the U.S. Revolution Tour stop at Buttermilk Ski Area. One of the more prominent names taking part in the competition this week, he won Wednesday’s men’s snowboard slopestyle contest, holding off runner-up Matthew Cox of Australia and North Carolina’s Fynn Bullock-Womble, who was a distant third.
The Rev Tour win is hardly a notable accomplishment for the 21-year-old Corning, who has competed at X Games Aspen the past four years, ridden in the 2018 Winter Olympics and has more than one World Cup crystal globe in the trophy case for winning seasonlong titles. But the competition was a sanctioned FIS event and, frankly, he needed the points.
“Long story short is they froze points for COVID, and I was hurt last year, and they didn’t run any contests in the time I was healthy, so I lost half of my points,” said Corning, who went from being ranked in the top 10 in slopestyle to barely inside the top 100 in the world. “We came out there and did what we needed to do to get the most points possible.”
While the Rev Tour win won’t make his overall resume, it’s his biggest win in Aspen to date. He’s yet to win an X Games Aspen medal, but he did win bronze at X Games Norway in 2018.
“I’m really excited just to be able to compete this year, because it was getting nerve-wracking that we weren’t going to compete really at all,” Corning said.
Prior to X Games in late January, Corning’s only other contest this season had been at the Kreischberg, Austria, World Cup on Jan. 9, where he finished 16th in big air.
However, he did have a strong showing at X Games last month, where he finished fourth in big air after originally being an alternate. With a bigger jump than in past contests, it turned out to be one of the best big air comps in X Games history. Norway’s Marcus Kleveland won, the first of five riders to finish with a combined score in the 90s.
“There was a lot of room for progression that night. Everybody was riding definitely some of the best I’ve ever seen them ride, and it was pretty awesome to be a part of it,” Corning said. “I was super stoked that I kept my hands off the ground and did my two biggest tricks that I can do and happened to put them down in a contest at the same time.”
He followed that performance with a slopestyle win at Wednesday’s Rev Tour stop in Aspen. He doesn’t plan to compete in Friday’s big air contest, saying he doesn’t need the FIS points in that discipline, and already has turned his attention toward his Aspen return in two weeks for the world championships.
Corning is the reigning slopestye world champion, having won two years ago when Park City, Utah, hosted the event. He also competed at worlds in 2017, hosted by Sierra Nevada, Spain, taking silver in big air and bronze in slopestyle. There was no big air competition at worlds in 2019 after weather forced its cancellation.
Worlds originally was scheduled for China this season, but all FIS events were canceled in the country because of the pandemic. Aspen stepped in as a last-second replacement after Calgary backed out. The world championships are scheduled for March 10-16 at Buttermilk with the Grand Prix set for March 18-21. The Grand Prix will serve as the first 2022 Olympic qualifier for the American athletes.
Corning made the U.S. Olympic team in 2018, where he finished fourth in big air in South Korea. He did not make finals in slopestyle.
“My riding is in a better spot, and I’m not coming off of injuries that are nagging at me nearly as bad as they were in 2018,” Corning said. “So as long as I can stay healthy and stay in the gym over the summer, then I should be able to put together a really good run for 2022. But it will also just come down to being consistent and beating out all the other Americans in all the Grand Prix.”
Team Summit freeskier Jenna Riccomini podiumed in all three competitions she entered at the Revolution Tour in Aspen this week. | Photo from Jenna Riccomini
The skiing portion of the U.S. Revolution Tour stop at Buttermilk Ski Area wrapped up Wednesday with the big air contests.
On the women’s side, 16-year-old Summit County resident Jenna Riccomini won a silver medal with a score of 162 behind Park City’s Rell Harwood (176.5). Harwood also won Monday’s slopestyle contest, in which Marin Hamill was second and Riccomini third. Of the three, only Riccomini also competed in Tuesday’s halfpipe competition, where she finished third behind Kathryn Gray and Basalt’s Hanna Faulhaber.
The accomplishment of three medals across all three freeski disciplines for the Pennsylvanian native Riccomini was a one-of-a-kind accomplishment that reflects the Team Summit skier’s goal of showcasing the all-around athlete she is.
“It just goes to show I’m able to do all of them and hold my own and be strong in those events,” Riccomini said.
Riccomini credited her halfpipe performance to her amplitude above the 22-foot X Games Aspen superpipe, namely a soaring flare. In slopestyle, Riccomini was proud of her switch (riding backward) 900-degree rotations, which is a trick Riccomini learned just before heading to Aspen. Riccomini was proud of the slopestyle medal because it is her main event.
As for big air, Riccomini made improvements to her grabs on an inverted cork 900-degree spin to her left side and an upright 720-degree rotation to her right side, grabbing mute and blunt, respectively.
Next week, Riccomini hopes to step up her rail game on the slopestyle course and push her halfpipe amplitude further at Copper Mountain Resort’s Rev Tour stop.
“This is something I’ve always kind of just wanted to do,” Riccomini said. “I want to be all-around and hopefully go to X Games in halfpipe, slope and big air.”
— Antonio Olivero
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