It’s been two years in the making for Édouard Therriault from Lorraine, Québec. In spring 2019, Therriault was crowned Junior World Champion for slopestyle in Klaeppen, Sweden. Today, the 18-year-old is deemed Vice World Champion in big air, the last event of the freeski 2021 World Championships that took place in Aspen, Colorado.
The conditions were less than ideal for a big air event today, the skies were grey in Aspen Snowmass which created a flat light, and the speed was tricky. The drop-in area was pushed up to help the skiers carry more speed into the jump, which took some adjustment from the field of competitors. This did not seem to affect Therriault who landed two huge jumps which scored him a total of 183.00 points, ending the day in second place behind Sweden’s Oliwer Magnusson who scored 185.25. Switzerland’s Kim Gubser claimed the bronze medal with a total score of 180.75.
Today’s big air contestants were given three opportunities to combine two of their best jumps into a final score. The judges marked each athlete on degree of difficulty, execution, amplitude and landing for a maximum score of 100 per jump.
Therriault, who came into the event qualified in fifth place, started things off with a triple cork 1620 double mute grab. After executing this highly technical trick with an almost perfect landing, Therriault was awarded a large score of 89.50.
Going into the second run of three, the Québec native who was currently sitting in fourth place, went for arguably one of the most technical tricks of the day. Therriault attempted a switch left double bio 1800, but ran out of airtime. Although, he still managed to come around at 1620 and land regardless, earning him a score of 85.50. This bumped his total score to 175.00 and placed him first for the meantime. After the rest of the field went through their second runs, Therriault was now sitting in third place. It was now apparent that if he was to land his switch 1800, Therriault was a serious World Champion contender.
Therriault did just that, with one more run left and still in third place, he re-attempted the switch double bio 1800 safety grab. After showcasing by far the biggest amplitude of the day and landing perfectly at the absolute bottom, he was rewarded with the second-best score of the day, an impressive 93.50. With his score totalling 183.00, Therriault was now in the top spot.
One more skier stood at the top. Oliwer Magnusson came into the finals as the top qualifier and was left with one more opportunity to reclaim first place, trailing Therriault by 1.75 points. There was a long break in-between Therriault’s last run and Magnusson’s due to technical difficulties. As we waited in great suspense, the time came for the Swedish skier’s last run of the day, where he put down a near-perfect switch left double cork 1800 tail grab. Magnusson’s score came in at 91.00, which boosted his total score to 185.25, sliding him into first place.
Nonetheless, being crowned Vice World Champion was a huge moment for the Canadian. “It’s an amazing feeling,” mentioned Therriault after receiving his first career World Championship medal. “I was able to land the tricks I came here to do and had so much fun today. I came into the event with a game-plan and was aiming to at least get a top ten with a good score, but I never thought I would get on the podium.”
It was no surprise to see the young rising star succeed for NextGen team coach Gabriel Leclerc who was watching the event from home. “I’m super proud of him. Edy is such a good kid, he’s a sponge. He’s been learning a lot and always wants to learn more,” mentioned Leclerc who was with Therriault when he won the Junior World Champs in Klaeppen. “The first thing we do when we bring somebody onto the team is ask them what’s their objectives with the sport. Édouard right away said that he wanted to push the limits in the sport.” Therriault certainly pushed his own limits today while wearing a big smile throughout the whole event, radiating positive vibes.
Evan McEachran from Oakville, ON, was the lone other male Canadian competing alongside Therriault. McEachran put down two solid jumps, a triple cork 1620 mute grab and a switch double cork 1800 lead tail grab that added up to a total score of 178.75, placing him in fifth.
On the women’s side, Megan Oldham of Parry Sound, ON, who claimed bronze on Saturday during the slopestyle event, came ever so close to stepping onto the podium once again. Oldham ended the day in fourth place behind China’s Eileen Gu and Russian Ski Federation’s Lana Prusakova and Anastasia Tatalina who placed third, second and first respectively. Oldham finished the day with a score of 158.75 after landing a switch 1080 and a double cork 1260 during runs one and two. With a podium spot within reach for the 19-year-old, Oldham was unfortunately unable to clean up her switch 1080 during her final run to improve her score.
Today marks the last event of the 2021 freeski World Championships. The slopestyle team continues their World Cup season with slopestyle qualifications on Thursday in Aspen.