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Monday, August 23, 2010
Bobby Brown wins again

The men's podium at today's FIS Junior World Championships at Snow Park, NZ.

Bobby Brown won the slopestyle finals at today's 2010 Junior Snowboard and Freestyle World Championships in New Zealand. The event is for athletes aged 14 to 20. This is the first Junior Worlds in the southern hemisphere, the first to feature skiing and snowboarding at the same venue and the first time that slopestyle skiing and boarding have been included in the event.

Which officially makes Americans Bobby Brown, 19, who last January became the first skier to win two gold medals at a single Winter X, and women's winner Jamie Crane-Mauzy, 17, the first-ever freeski slopestyle Junior World Champions.

Brown qualified on his first run with a huge double cork 10 off the 70-foot kicker. In the finals, his two runs featured a switch 900 mute grab, a double cork 1080 and a misty 450, which put him in the lead with an overall score of 45.6. Fellow American Gus Kentworthy came in a close second with a score of 42.1. Switzerland's Jonas Hunziker, 16, took third with 39.4.

"It was a super fun day and it's awesome to be standing on the podium next to one of my best mates, Gus Kenworthy," Brown said. "The introduction of freeskiing into FIS is going to be interesting. It's great to have freeskiing at this event and it's a good way to excel our sport."

Third place went to Jonas Hunziker, 16, from Switzerland.

In the women's field, Jamie Crane-Mauzy fell in the first run of finals, but dominated in her second run with a straight slide to back cross to 3 mute followed by a front flip truck finishing with a straight slide. "My goal was to land my run -- I knew if I could do that I would do OK," said Crane-Mauzy. "It feels so good to be world champion." Canadian Keltie Hansen, 18, got second, and American Devin Logan rounded out the podium.

There's talk that the inclusion of ski slopestyle to FIS events may be the first step toward slopestyle or halfpipe skiing becoming an Olympic sport. "There is a high level of interest from spectators and media so there's a strong pull from the outside for these events to come to the Olympics," said Dean Gosper, FIS counsel member. "The fact that the terrain is complimentary to these disciplines is also a very attractive feature -- they're exciting, contemporary and commercially attractive and can be delivered efficiently. These are very persuasive arguments to an organization like the IOC."

Jen Hudak, who won the first Junior Worlds halfpipe ski event seven years ago, is working as a coach for the US Junior Worlds Team in New Zealand right now. "This is the first time that the US has sent 'official' coaches to a Junior Worlds contest," Hudak wrote on her blog. "To finally be recognized by our National Governing Body is an incredible honor. It shines light on the thought that someday soon we may be able to say that we are a part of the US Ski Team."