After a one-year hiatus, the ninth World Snowboard Championships (WSC) kicked off Saturday in Barcelona before migrating to the mountains of La Molina, Spain. The International Ski Federation (FIS) event, which originated in 1996 and has run every other year since 1997, continues this week through Jan. 22.
Opening the occasion on Jan. 15, the big air competition was first on the slate. The WSC's sole all-male event was the lone off-site battle, with 1991-birthdays claiming all three podium places: Finland's Petja Piiroinen took first, Canada's Zach Stone was second and Belgium's Seppe Smits placed third.
Regarding the Barcelona opener, United States Ski and Snowboard Association's Tom Kelly, who is also a member of the FIS PR and Mass Media Committee, explained, "The FIS vision of big air events is to make them city events, which has pretty much been the history of the event."
Stone was the only North American to crack the top 10 in an event historically comprised of Europeans, including three other Finns. Colorado's Taylor Gold finished 25th, while fellow American Paul Brichta pulled in 40th among the field of 45 men.
Men's and women's snowboardcross qualification commenced on Monday, with the finals occurring Tuesday under clear skies with mild temps. The American contingent proved competent in both races. Finding another gold medal around her neck, Lindsey Jacobellis won her third WSC -- the highest placing among the three medaling Americans.
"My plan was just to be top-two and advance because I haven't been getting to the finals in my last couple of races. Making finals was definitely my first goal and getting out ahead was my second," stated Jacobellis. France's Nelly Moenne-Loccoz arrived immediately behind Jacobellis; and Dominique Maltais of Canada capped the final three.
Meanwhile, Alex Pullin, the top Australian on the World Cup circuit, owned the men's final. Two-time U.S. Olympian Seth Wescott pulled into second place for his fourth WSC medal (more than any snowboardcross rider). After finishing second in each of his early heats, five-time Winter X gold medalist Nate Holland arrived in third at the final.
"Basically this was a repeat performance of what the team did at the 2007 World Champs. Nate and I were on opposite sides of the bracket," Wescott said in a press release.
Competition resumed Wednesday with parallel giant slalom and qualifiers for Thursday's main halfpipe event. Thursday will also feature the parallel slalom, which precedes the slopestyle runs -- and their qualification rounds -- that conclude the WSC on Saturday.