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|The podium at the 2012 Relentless Freeze Big Air: Henrik Harlaut, Gus Kenworthy, Kai Mahler.|
The fifth annual Relentless Freeze Festival took place this weekend in London, England, with the International Skiing Big Air competition happening on Friday night.
Sweden's Henrik Harlaut took first place amongst challenging high wind conditions, followed by American Gus Kenworthy in second and 16-year-old Kai Mahler from Switzerland in third.
Harlaut is on a winning streak at this fall's series of urban big air contests, having also won the recent Freestyle.CH Big Air contest in Zurich.
"Even with the bad weather it was only the wind that was an issue," Harlaut said. "It made it difficult to judge speed."
Twenty of the best skiers in the world gathered at an old power plant in London for a head-to-head contest. The 20 riders were whittled down to a 10-rider semifinal, which then put the top five in a heated battle for the podium. Kenworthy, Mahler, Harlaut, Vincent Gagnier, and Mikkel Joraanstad made the cut and had to prove their ability through a three-run super final. These runs included a style run, a technical run and a run of their choice to improve one of their scores.
|Gus Kenworthy took second in the big air contest and first in style.|
Harlaut earned the highest score with an extremely stylish nose butter double 10, and nose butter cork 9 blunt secured him a high style score.
Throwing down consistent tricks all night, Kenworthy made his way to second place with a switch double rodeo 9 Japan grab and a switch cork 5 screamin' seamen Japan grab. Mahler completed a rodeo 5 tweaked safety and double cork 10 mute for third.
"Henrik has been killing it super hard. He has been unstoppable," said Kenworthy. "I'm stoked to share a podium with him on my first city big air podium."
UK local Paddy Graham did not make the main stage in the international contest but he made a big splash in the battle of Britain contest earlier in the day. Graham placed first against his fellow Englishman James Woods. Woods, a crowd favorite, failed to make the finals after being eliminated by Harlaut.
On Saturday night, a style contest for the skiers went down prior to the snowboard big air finals -- not the highlight event for the skiers but the crowd seemed to love the action and the weather was an improvement over Friday's main event.
In the style contest, Kenworthy won with a switch cork 5 with a screamin' seamen Japan grab, which earned a high score of 88. Harlaut took second with a rodeo 5 high safety grab for a score of 85. McRae Williams came in third with a rodeo 5 bow and arrow and scored an 82.
"Style events are a nice change of pace from the regular big air format and are great opportunities to showcase tricks you would not normally do in competition," said Kenworthy afterward. "I think they are very difficult for the judges to rank the athletes because of how different the tricks are, but it was really fun and happy I came out on top."