Sweden's Tjäder wins Gibbons Life Big Air 

19-year-old adds another podium as breakout season winds down

click to enlarge PHOTO BY DAVID BUZZARD / WWW.DAVIDBUZZARD.COM - From left, Vincent Gagnier, Jesper Tjäder and Bobby Brown celebrate their podium finishes in Saturday's Gibbons Life Big Air. Tjäder won the World Ski and Snowboard Festival event and took home the $6,000 grand prize.
  • Photo by David Buzzard / www.davidbuzzard.com
  • From left, Vincent Gagnier, Jesper Tjäder and Bobby Brown celebrate their podium finishes in Saturday's Gibbons Life Big Air. Tjäder won the World Ski and Snowboard Festival event and took home the $6,000 grand prize.

Jesper Tjäder added another victory to his list of excellent big air performances this season, taking top spot in Saturday night's Gibbons Life Big Air contest, part of the World Ski and Snowboard Festival's World Skiing Invitational.

The Swedish skier, who has had a breakout season in AFP World Tour events this winter, earned a score of 90.0 from judges on his second of two jumps in the eight-man final, landing a double-cork 1620 to claim the $6,000 grand prize. He wrestled the lead away from U.S. skier Bobby Brown (89.00), who took runner-up honours.

"I'm pretty sure that was the best one I've ever done," Tjäder said of his winning trick, after stepping off the podium. "A lot of people were doing double-cork 1260s... but I added the one more rotation, and that was pretty hard to do. And I got a good grab and a good landing, so that was special."

Meanwhile, Quebec's Vincent Gagnier reached the event's podium for the fourth year in a row, finishing third with a double-cork 1260 octograb that judges awarded an 88.6.

Tjäder has had an incredible year that has also included a big air win at the Frostgun Invitational in France and a second-place finish at the Jon Olsson Invitational. That's allowed him to challenge for an AFP season title in big air and spend much of the season ranked top-five overall.

"So far, this has been the best season. I started pretty good, qualified for the Olympics," said Tjäder, who was 15th in slopestyle at the Games. "Things didn't go so good (in Sochi), but since the Olympics, everything has been going so good, I can't really believe it."

Brown, who had some of the most impressive amplitude Saturday evening as light rain fell on the jump, was rewarded with second place for a double-cork 1260 mute grab on his first finals attempt.

"It's end of the season, no worries, and it's always a good crowd and a good time," said Brown. "The jump was really good tonight. It was a lot of fun.

"I woulda loved to have landed a switch 14, but I'll take the 12."

Brown said he hasn't been surprised to see Tjäder, a fellow Red Bull-sponsored skier, have such an excellent season.

"He definitely kills it and I'm stoked for him," said Brown.

Whistler's Simon d'Artois wound up competing but did not advance to the final. The other skiers who qualified to the final were Olympic gold medallist Joss Christensen, Canadians Alex Beaulieu-Marchand and Alex Bellemarre, James Woods and Matt Walker.

In a scary moment on Saturday, Canadian skier Noah Morrison fell hard on a triple-cork attempt in the qualifiers and had to be stretchered off the course. After a 10-minute delay, Morrison indicated he was OK by saluting the crowd while being taken away.

In another notable moment, Aspen's Alex Ferreira stripped down to everything but his ski boots on his second qualifying jump, and the big crowd gathered at Skiers Plaza howled as he threw a massive backflip, naked, over the jump.

The World Skiing Invitational acts as the AFP World Tour's world championships, meaning Saturday's contest was the last chance for competitors to jockey for position in the big air season rankings. It was unclear after the event who will finish the season at No. 1, as Gagnier sat first and Tjäder second in the standings before Saturday's results were applied. The trophy will be awarded Sunday, April 20, at the Bearfoot Bistro during the tour's annual awards banquet.

Also Sunday are the men's and women's Samsung Slopestyle finals on Blackcomb. See Pique on Thursday, April 24 for a full recap.

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