PARK CITY – Freeskier Julia Krass wasn’t sure how much hope to have as she approached her first Big Air World Championships Saturday night under the lights of the Canyons Village.
“I’ve never done this event,” said the Park City resident, after claiming a silver medal at the first-ever FIS Ski Big Air World Championships. “And it was so cool to be under the lights. … I knew that I had the tricks to be on the podium, so I kind of had that in the back of my head. But it being my first World Championship, my first big air event, I kind of just wanted to have fun.”
Krass started with a double cork 1080 on her first jump, which she landed easily.
“I’m pretty confident with that trick,” she said. “So I figured I would just get it out of the way, and then I could focus on my switch trick for the next two jumps, which played out well.”
She landed her first jump, but the second one was “super sloppy," which meant she had to land the third jump if she wanted to have a shot at a medal.
Krass, who will compete in ski slopestyle at Solitude next week, landed her third jump, but had to wait for six skiers to throw their final tricks before she knew if she’d be able to hold on to a podium finish.
“It was definitely nerve-racking watching them all come down,” she said.
France’s Tess Ledeux landed the highest-scoring jump of the night in her first run, and then recovered from a bad landing on her second jump to earn the World Championship with a combined score of 184.75. Krass earned a 173.75, edging out Great Britain’s Isabel Atkin, who scored a 168.75.
Atkin, who moved to Park City six years ago to attend the Winter Sports School, said she was shocked and energized by the size of the crowd.
“I didn't really have any expectations coming into it,” said Atkin, who acknowledged she hadn’t competed in a Big Air competition in several years. “I just wanted to ski and have fun, and I did that. To land on the podium is amazing.”
For Krass, there was one thing that made earning a World Championship medal in her first Big Air Event more memorable — doing it in her adopted home town in front of about 6,000 fans.
“It was pretty amazing standing up there and seeing everyone,” she said. “It’s crazy, especially because I live in Park City, so a lot of these people I know. And my family was out here, which was awesome. ... But standing up top you kind of have to zone in and pretend they're not there.”
In the men’s competition, Fabian Boesch of Switzerland won the gold with a combined score of 186, while Sweden’s Henrik Harlaut earned silver with 184 points. Canada’s Alex Beaulieu-Marchand earned bronze with a 183.25 points.
Park City’s Alex Hall finished fourth with a score of 180.5, while Olympic silver medalist Nick Goepper struggled to land any jump cleanly and finished 10th.
“It was super fun, big crowd, and I actually really liked the jump,” said Hall, who was sporting the same Christmas sweater his mother gave him a year ago as he won gold at X Games in it last week. “It was a good night. I’m overwhelmed right now. I’m stoked I got fourth.”
Goepper said he’s new to Big Air, but now that it’s in the Olympics (added for 2022), he would likely focus more attention on it.Comment on this story
“It was amazing,” he said of competing for a World Championship in the U.S. “I was actually overwhelmed with the amount of people that showed up tonight.”
He was disappointed with his performance, but said he was looking forward to competing in Slopestyle next week.
“At the bottom of my runs, I really just wanted to throw my skis and run out and hide in the woods,” he said to laughter. “But at the end of the day, I mean, we’re skiing in front of 5,000 people, my loved ones are here, you know, life ain’t bad.”