Snowboard's next generation fire warning to world’s finest with thrilling YOG display

LAUSANNE, Jan 20 – A host of young snowboarders showed they are ready to challenge the world’s best as the men’s slopestyle and women’s halfpipe events concluded in style on Monday.

Fresh from topping qualification at the International Ski Federation (FIS) World Cup event in Laax, Switzerland, a week ago, the USA’s Dusty Henricksen (above) proved he is a name to watch as he took slopestyle gold by a margin of 11 points.

“An unreal experience,” Henricksen said of his dominant performance. He relegated close friend Liam Brearley (CAN) to silver, with home hero Nick Puenter taking bronze thanks to a brave final run.

“All the riders here are super good, the level of competition was really high,” Henricksen said.

“The World Cup was a crazy experience, going up against all these people I have looked up to all my life. You never know what is going to happen but the World Cup is definitely my aim now.

“I’ve got to keep my body in tip-top condition. I go to the gym as much as possible and I eat healthily. I didn’t used to be so good at that but I feel much better when I eat well.”

It is the type of dedication that Henricksen and all his Lausanne 2020 peers know is required if they are to reach the top.

Olympic Channel Video: dusty-henricksen-living-golden-dream

Fellow snowboard gold medallist, Ono Mitsuki (JPN), who triumphed by a similarly wide margin in the women's halfpipe, is another to have already made her mark on the senior circuit.

“I am always competing in the World Cup,” Ono said. “And this final pushed me to that level.”

The Japanese star, like Henricksen, finished ninth in her most recent World Cup appearance, in Secret Garden, China, a month ago. And after winning the halfpipe Junior World Championships in 2018 and 2019, plus finishing third in her national championships last year, the competition know Ono is the real deal.

Ono Mitsuki (JPN) | Dylan Burns for OISphotos.com

“She is really good,” said Berenice Wicki (SUI) who claimed bronze behind Ono and her compatriot Kaji Manon. “They are both in front in the World Cups, it was really tough. The final was like a World Cup.”

Kaji ended 10 points behind Ono with Wicki a further four back.

While eyeing the second half of a season packed with further opportunities to test herself against the best, Ono is also excited by another looming Olympic date.

“I live near Tokyo so it’s great that’s next,” the 15-year-old said of the 2020 Olympic Games. “I can’t wait to see it all.”

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By Olympic Information Service

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