|ESPN.com: Snowboarding||[Print without images]|
|Marko Grilc, Staale Sandbech and Seppe Smits on the podium Saturday night at London's Freeze Festival.|
A crowd of more than 15,000 people at Battersea Power Station in central London Saturday night witnessed Slovenia's Marko Grilc win the LG Snowboard FIS World Cup. Held during the three-day, multi-stage live music extravaganza known as the Relentless Freeze Festival, this snowboard big air competition was the first freestyle FIS event of the 10/11 season.The victory was especially sweet for Grilc, who suffered a dislocated hip at this event two years ago. "I'm really stoked. It worked out even better [this year]," Grilc said. "It's amazing to be snowboarding in London."
Grilc finished with 54.9 points after three attempts on the big air. Staale Sandbech of Norway finished second with a score of 53.5, while Belgium's Seppe Smits took third with 50.3.Finland's Peetu Piiroiren and Switzerland's Iouri Podladtchikov failed to advance past the qualifying rounds.
The field of over 60 riders was narrowed to 12 finalists through qualifying heats. The finalists had three hits each, with the best score of the first two attempts counting toward their final tally. The third attempt had to be a trick the individual had not yet thrown in the finals, and also counted toward the overall score.
Entering the final round, Belgium's Seppe Smits led the pack, with Austrian Clemens Schattschneider in second place and England's Jamie Nicholls holding onto third place and giving the London crowd hopes for one of their own on the podium.
Sandbech grew stronger with each run, throwing a cab 9 and a cab 10 on his first two hits for scores of 22.8 and 25.2, respectively. For his final strike, Sandbech threw a backside 10. "I did the backside 10 in qualifers," Sandbech said. "It was my safety big trick."
|Marko Grilc en route to victory.|
Sandbech earned a 28.3 for the backside 10, rousing the crowd with the highest score of the night. He stood at the edge of the crowd to see if it would stand -- watching the next rider, Austria's Michael Macho, come up short. But then Grilc landed a massive backside double cork that the judges gave a 29.1.
"He landed super good on his first two runs, he landed super tricks," Sandbech said. "I'm just happy to stand up there [on the podium] and wave to the crowd."
Nicholls ran out of tricks, but the 17-year-old said he was happy to reach the top 10, and the crowd agreed, chanting his name in appreciation as a send off. Schattschneider followed, but fell on his landing and couldn't challenge the leaders.
That left Smits, the final rider, but his cab 9 wasn't quite enough. His score of 22.8 put him in third place and left him smiling.
"It's a really good feeling -- now I go into the season with lots of confidence," Smits said. "All the heavy hitters from snowboarding are here. The atmosphere is super mellow. Everyone is cheering for each other and supporting each other."