McRae Williams and Gus Kenworthy saved the best for last Sunday, scoring big on their final runs to give Team USA gold and silver in men’s ski slopestyle, the final event of the 2017 FIS Freestyle & Snowboard World Championships in Sierra Nevada, Spain.
The reigning Olympic silver medalist in the event, Kenworthy soared to the top of the leaderboard with a 91.80 on his third run, but his stay there was short-lived as Williams went from third to first with his 93.80 to make the top two steps of the podium American territory. Great Britain’s James Woods took the bronze with a 90.40.
With the double-medal performance, Team USA’s total medal haul at the event rises to 13, including six golds: a sweep of aerials by Ashley Caldwell and Jon Lillis, Lindsey Jacobellis’ fifth straight snowboardcross world title, Aaron Blunck’s ski halfpipe win, Williams’ slopestyle gold and a men’s team snowboardcross victory from Hagen Kearney and Nick Baumgartner.
Combined with the world cup crystal globe he won this season, Williams’ gold medal confirms he is the man to beat next February at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games. He podiumed at all but one of his events this season: finishing first at a January world cup in Font Romeu, France, and second at the March stop in Silvaplana, Switzerland; earning silver at X Games Aspen in January; and finishing fourth at X Games Norway earlier this month.
Kenworthy, who was part of a Team USA podium sweep at the event’s Olympic debut in Sochi, picked up his first world championship medal after a sixth-place showing in 2013. A five-time X Games medalist, he took slopestyle silver in Aspen, Colorado, last year and bronze in 2013 bronze medal in Tignes, France. His third-place finish two weeks ago in Silvaplana, Switzerland, was only his second world cup slopestyle podium, increasing his career total to seven, five of which have come in halfpipe.
Youth Olympic silver medalist Alex Hall finished ninth with an 81.20 to give Team USA three in the top 10.
Only one American skier reached the women’s final. Devin Logan, bronze medalist last night in halfpipe and the 2014 Olympic slopestyle silver medalist, finished sixth with a best run of 74.00. France’s Tess Ledeux took the gold with an 85.60, followed by Emma Dahlstrom of Sweden (83.80) and Isabel Atkin of Great Britain (83.20).