Milan jumps for joy for Big Air
The opening round of the Big Air Freeski World Cup crowned Swiss Elias Ambuehl and French Coline Ballet Baz, in front of a great crowd at the EXPerience park in Milan
A long day of charm, music and emotions. Big Air Milan clinched today a double weekend full of passion at the EXPerience Park, back to crowds of thousands of people like in the Expo 2015 days. The opening stage of the FIS Big Air Freeski provided for another major show – just like the Snowboard specialty seven days earlier – reaffirming the success of an event that Milan has fallen in love with in just two-year time, and that found its perfect setting with the iconic Tree of Life on the background.
After reaching the finals with three representatives, Swiss eventually celebrated the Men’s title in Milan, but it was not eve’s favorite Andri Ragettli to raise his arms on the podium. Instead, it was to be the day of Elias Ambuehl, who successfully overcame a bad landing in the first attempt to come back big with two standout performances in the final jumps to find himself atop the standings. Coming just one point short of the celebration was Swede Hugo Burvall, highly impressive throughout the three runs, whilst Ragettli had to settle for third.
“I wasn’t expecting this – the winner said – I am honestly surprised, but races are like that. I had a really good feeling, and even though my second jump in the finals wasn’t perfect, I managed to make it up for it with the third. It was an amazing night here in Milan.”
Just like in the snowboard event, the Italian fans had a lot to cheer about on Saturday, as once again the Azzurri found an unexpected protagonist that lit up the locals’ enthusiasm in an exciting final round. 20-year-old Ralph Welponer chose Milan to pull out the best performance of his sports career, reaching the finals with the second-best score in the qualifiers and eventually ending with a career-best 6th place overall after nurturing podium dreams.
The Women’s event also produced a tight and entertaining final round. Switzerland’s Giulia Tanno, the 19-year-old from Lendzerheide – led the field through two jumps, but then risked too much in the final attempt, sliding to third behind French Coline Ballet Baz and Norwegian Johanne Killi.
Coline rose to success later than most of her rivals, after having prioritized her university studies in Politics, but now, at 25, she is enjoying the sweet taste of it. “I love Milan – said the French rider afterwards – this is an amazing race. There’s no way I could have started the season better, I had already felt confident in the qualifying rounds. In the final I continued the good stretch, though the second jump wasn’t perfect. I am really happy of my performance.”
After the adrenaline and the flowers ceremony, another party started in Milan, singing and dancing with Italian artist Baby K until late at night. Big night, at Big Air.