Russian-turned-Swiss shred Iouri Podladtchikov -- better known as I-Pod -- is one of the only snowboarders on the planet with enough pipe prowess to give Shaun White a run for his money. I-Pod's definitive win in the halfpipe finals of theFIS Snowboard World Championships showed that he's a serious contender for gold at Sochi 2014.
Heavy snow continued to hammer down on Stoneham, Quebec, nearly closing roads into the resort and filling up the FIS halfpipe at an exponential rate. The snowy conditions seemed to work for I-Pod, though, who snapped up the day's high of 94.25 on his second run. He gave the crowd all of the elements that make a pipe event fun to watch: huge amplitude and technical trickery.
Podladtchikov was the last rider to drop in during the final, and winning combo came in the form of a cab 1080 nose to frontside 900 tail, backside 540 mute, frontside 1080 tail and a cab 1080 double cork mute finished the contest off nicely. It was enough to take top spot from Japan's Taku Hiraoka, who ended his day just 0.50 points behind I-Pod with a total of 93.75. Markus Malin of Finland took the bronze trailing behind with 86.75 points.
"The conditions got a little bit worse but I was on fire to give it all in in my second run and make it," said Podladtchikov. "It's unbelievable. First, it seemed that nothing would work out throughout the whole day. It started with heavy snowfall, and then I broke my board crashing on my first training run -- and now gold. That it all worked out in the very last run is amazing." On the women's side, teenage pipe phenom Arielle Gold honored her name as she clinched gold in her first run amongst a strong showing of ladies. Watch out for this one in years to come. At just 16, she showed she's got the skills to be part of the next wave in women's snowboarding.
Gold's effort through the pipe -- a backside air to frontside 540 lien, backside 540 mute, frontside 720 indy, cab 720 indy and a final frontside air -- was enough to take the victory with 79.00 points.
"We were all kind of struggling to stay smooth and keep our amplitude up," Gold said. "I tried a cab 900 in my second run to see if I could up my score, but I couldn't put it together. I'm just so happy that I was able to put down a run and it turned out in my favor."
Australia's Holly Crawford and Sophie Rodriguez of France came in second and third with scores of 77.25 and 72.50 respectively.
Men's pipe results
1. Iouri Podladtchikov (SUI) 94.25
2. Taku Hiraoka (JAP) 93.75
3. Markus Malin (FIN) 86.75
4. Christian Haller (SUI) 85.75
5. Ryo Aono (Jap) 85.50
Women's pipe results
1. Arielle Gold (USA) 79.00
2. Holly Crawford (AUS) 77.25
3. Sophie Rodriguez (FRA) 72.50
4. Kaitlyn Farrington (USA) 70.25
5. Queralt Castellet (SPA) 58.75