It was another HUGE day in snowboard history at the 2023 FIS Snowboard Championships, where Snowboard slopestyle action got underway with a groundbreaking final that saw Mia Brookes (GBR) making all kinds of history and Marcus Kleveland (NOR) going back-to-back on his way to gold.
Mia Brookes’ Bakuriani 2023 slopestyle performance deserves all the ink that is going to be spent on it in the coming days, as the just-turned-16-year-old came through with a second and final run that will go down in snowboarding history.
On Monday Brookes became the first women to land a 1440 in competition (and possibly the first woman to land a 1440, full stop), while besting two-time reigning slopestyle World Champion and Olympic gold medallist Zoi Sadowski-Synnott (NZL) to become the youngest FIS Snowboard World Champion in history.
“Winning a medal here means a lot to me since it’s my last slopestyle competition of the season,” said Sadowski-Synnott, “And it’s sick to land my run. Of course I wanted to try and back up the World Champion title, but I did everything I could and I am so stoked for Mia. Mia is leading snowboarding competition at the moment, especially on the jumps, and pushing all of us girls to ride our best.”
Sadwoski-Synnott’s Bakuriani 2023 silver was the fifth medal of her World Championships career, putting her into a tie with Seppe Smits (BEL) for the most ever by a snowboard Park & Pipe competitor.
Bronze would go to the woman that Brookes displaced as the youngest World Champion in FIS Snowboard history, as 24-year-old Miyabi Onitsuka of Japan – winner of the Kreischberg 2015 World Championships just over eight years ago, also at the age of 16 but two months older than Brookes is now – returned to the World Championships podium for the fourth time in her career after earning a score of 83.05 for her first run.
Over on the men’s side of things it was Marcus Kleveland of Norway showing his incredible poise under pressure and unmatched trick arsenal on his way to becoming the first man in FIS Snowboard World Championships history to earn back-to-back slopestyle gold medals.
“It’s always pretty nerve-wracking just standing there basically having the whole finals dropping in after you,” Kleveland smiled after weathering the storm, “It’s the worst. But we ended up on top and I could not be more happy. This is insane. This course is really challenging. There’s a lot going on and you’ve got to be really focused when you ride. I had to kind of go into my mind on the last one and it all ended really good.”
After holding the lead through the first run, Ryoma Kimata would be forced to settle for second when he was unable to put down a clean second run. With a frontside triple cork 1440 to backside double cork 1620 melon combo through jumps two and three, Kimata wasn’t far off Kleveland’s heavy pace, but a lower overall score also set him back, and the 20-year-old would finish with a mark of 83.45 and the silver medal in the first World Championships start of his career.
Rounding out the podium in third was one of the most decorated riders in FIS Snowboard history, as Chris Corning put down a storming first run that included the only other stomped 1800 of the day. While he would fall just short in his bid to return to the top of the slopestyle World Championships as he did at Park City in 2019, with his score of 82.18 the 23-year-old Corning would earn the fourth World Championships podium of his ever-impressive career.