Win makes 19th birthday the best

It was a golden 19th birthday for American Chris Corning, who won the snowboard world cup big air...
It was a golden 19th birthday for American Chris Corning, who won the snowboard world cup big air at Cardrona after scoring a 98.00 on a trick he had never landed before in competition. Photo: Sean Nugent
The New Zealand Winter Games wrapped up in style at Cardrona on Saturday, thanks to a breathtaking performance from birthday boy Chris Corning, of the United States, in the snowboard world cup big air.

On a stunning bluebird day, competitors each had three runs, and the best two jump scores combined to determine the medal placings.

Celebrating his 19th birthday, Corning put on a show for the 100-plus crowd watching from the neighbouring hillside, laying down three runs that all scored above 90.

After trailing junior world champion Takeru Otsuka, who scored a 95.60 on his first jump, Corning threw caution to the wind, stomping a massive quad cork 1800, the biggest trick of the day and of the entire Winter Games, to rapturous cheering from the crowd and his fellow competitors.

It earned him a 98.00, virtually sealing his place at the top of the podium.

The quad cork was the first Corning had ever landed in competition, and he believed it was redemption for when he crashed while attempting the trick at the Olympics, where he finished fourth.

"I kinda had a bad taste in my mouth from falling on it there. I just tried to pull it out and see what happened."

"I landed the first frontside 1440 so it gave me two more opportunities to try it, but I landed it the first time, so I’m stoked.

"I’m mind-blown right now; this is super super sweet."

Corning upped his combined score on his third run to  further tighten his grip on the gold medal.

A day after jumping out of a plane from 15,000ft, Corning said the big air jump seemed "a lot less scary" and claiming gold in the first world cup of the season was a birthday wish come true.

"It was actually [a birthday wish]. I got a cupcake last night and I wished for a win and it came.

"This [birthday] is probably No1 for sure. Although I had my birthday last year and I rode an amazing powder day with my coach, it’s a tough one to beat, but I think this one nudges it out."

Otsuka capped off a brilliant two weeks at Cardrona with a silver medal, adding to his two junior world championship golds.

Norway’s Mons Roisland claimed the bronze.

In the women’s competition, 16-year-old Japanese rider Reira Iwabuchi, who, like Corning, also finished fourth in big air at the Olympics, held the lead from start to finish, beating  teammate Miyabi Onitsuka and Slovakia’s Claudia Medlova.

"I did what I wanted to do and I’m really happy," Iwabuchi said.

Makarora’s Corrah Phillips had a nasty crash on her first run and had to withdraw from the rest of the contest.

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