Teen snowboard prodigy Valentino Guseli has created history, becoming the youngest Australian to ever win a World Cup Crystal Globe, and the first for Australia in big air, after finishing fourth in Kreischberg, Austria, over the weekend.
Heading into the fourth and final event of the FIS big Air World Cup series, Guseli was in first place with a narrow four point lead in the standings ahead of seven time series trophy winner, Chris Corning of the USA.
Needing to finish ahead of Corning to secure the title, Guseli made a strong start to the final with his backside 1620 degree spin with truck driver grab scoring 87.75 points.
With his second jump a throw away, Guseli stepped it up on his third and final jump, performing an incredible frontside 1800 degree spin (five full rotations) with melon grab to score 94.25 points, giving him a two jump score of 180 points.
Guseli narrowly missed out on the podium by just 1.75 points but finished three places ahead of Corning with 128.75 points in seventh place, to secure Guseli his first ever World Cup title at just 17-years-of-age, the youngest Australian ever to do so.
Guseli finished first on the seasons standings with 214 points, 18 ahead of Corning on 196 with Marcus Kleveland of Norway in third with 140.
The NSWIS teenager’s highlight result of the season was his first career gold medal in Edmonton, Canada, during December.
“Firstly, wow. So hyped,” Guseli said, holding his new trophy.
“I knew coming here it was a possibility to get the globe and I wanted to make it so bad, because it was a good opportunity to get this beautiful thing that is definitely going in my pool room.
“But I knew I had to beat Chris (Corning) who, out of anyone in the field, is probably the person you least want to have to beat, because he’s just so good and consistent. I think he’s won seven (crystal globes). So, I’m super happy. It was a battle and I landed my stuff. Couldn’t really ask for much more.”
In her first event of the season. Olympic bronze medallist Tess Coady was unlucky not to advance to finals of the women’s big air, just missing out by one place in ninth.
Also competing for Australia in Kreischberg was rookie NSWIS rider Melia Stalker who finished in 13th place in her World Cup debut and Jesse Parkinson in 31st.
The park and pipe athletes will be in action next weekend competing at the Laax Open in Switzerland, with a slopestyle and halfpipe event scheduled for January 21.
Scotty James will also compete in his first halfpipe event of 2023 wearing the yellow leader’s bib after winning the opening World Cup event in Copper Mountain, USA, in mid-December.