(ATR) It was a busy day on the mountain at the Hafjell venues as five sets of Youth Olympic Games medals were awarded.
Austrian Manuel Traninger wins slalom gold. (Getty)
Men’s slalom races attacked a tight set of gates on the Hafjell Olympia-loypa slope, while one chairlift ride up the mountain, male and female slopestyle skiers and snowboarders spun, flipped and twisted through the air at the Hafjell Freepark.
Enthusiasm and energy were high from the sizable number of spectators, despite clouds hanging over the two courses.
In the first run of slalom, U.S. YOG star River Radamus had his string of three consecutive gold medals in three races snapped. The popular American skier was attacking aggressively coming onto the steep final pitch, lost his rhythm and skied off course.
“I was going real hard over the break-over, the snow was taking no prisoners and I just got flipped around,” Radamus said about his DNF result.
Austrian skier Manuel Traninger skied to his first gold medal of the Games as Norwegian first-run leader Odin Vassbotn Breivik couldn’t find the speed in run two and dropped to third. Sweden’s Filip Vennerstroem took silver, finishing only .03 seconds behind the Austrian.
For Traninger, it was his third medal of the Lillehammer Games.
“I love the conditions here,” the Austrian said about the Hafjell racing piste, which was also home to Olympic races in 1994. “YOG has been a dream for me so far. I’m enjoying life in the village, meeting guys from other sports, and talking to legends like Lindsey Vonn.“
The alpine skiing program at Hafjell concludes on Saturday (Feb. 20) as men and women will race together in the parallel mixed team event.
Jake Pates and Chloe Kim with their gold medals in snowboard slopestyle. (Getty)
The program at the neighboring venue ran a lengthy five hours on Friday considering the four events contested on the same course – both men’s and women’s snowboard slopestyle and ski slopestyle.
In snowboard slopestyle, the U.S. continued its winning ways as both Chloe Kim and Jake Pates soared to their second gold medals. Both also captured gold at the YOG halfpipe event last weekend in Oslo.
The pair of snowboard victories gave the United States nine gold medals at these Games, but they still trail South Korea, who have won 10.
Skiers and snowboarders descended a 520-meter long slopestyle course composed of three jibs and three jumps. Competitors gave the course mostly high marks, however said that the jumps and airs weren’t large enough,
especially the last one.
Norway's Birk Ruud wins gold in ski slopestyle. (Lillehammer 2016)
Norwegian Birk Ruud, 15, edged American Alexander Hall by two points to take gold in ski slopestyle. It was the third gold for the host nation at these Games.
Like others, Ruud wasn’t thrilled about the final jump.
“The last jump is like a snowboard jump – there’s not too much pop, but I liked the rest of the course,” said Ruud, who is from Oslo.
Regarding the YOG experience in his home country, Ruud said: “It’s been super fun to have the Youth Olympics in my homeland. Everyone has been really nice and is happy here.”
Hall wanted to throw a switch cork 1080 on his final jump, but because the in-run to the last jump was slow, he could only manage a 900 degree trick.
“It was well-built, but the last jump was a little bit slow to clear,” Hall said about the course. “I think I speak for most of us that we’re used to a little bit bigger jumps at world cups.
“I don’t think they quite had the speed on this course, for what they were working with they built a really good course, good rails and it was fun.”
Like his fellow Norwegian slopestyle medalist, Hall said the YOG has been an excellent experience.
“It was definitely a really, really good experience – just super fun meeting a ton of athletes all our age,” said the Park City, Utah skier. “The way they’ve been treating us has been really nice, where we’re staying, the food, everything is amazing. It’s been an awesome once in a lifetime experience.”
The freestyle skiing and snowboarding program at the Hafjell Freepark are now complete.
The 2016 Lillehammer Youth Olympic Games close on Sunday, with what is expected to be a very informal closing ceremony in the Sjogg Tent.
Written by Brian Pinelli in Lillehammer
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