Colby Stevenson performs a trick on a practice run during the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Feb. 16, 2022 in Zhangjiakou, China.
Freeskiers Colby Stevenson and Grace Henderson kicked off the slopestyle world cup season in style Saturday, each taking third place in a competition held at the Stubai Zoo in Austria.
The 25-year-old Stevenson punctuated a remarkable comeback from a near-fatal 2016 car crash when he made his first Olympic Winter Games earlier this year and then won a big air silver medal in Beijing.
The Park City, Utah, native is best known for his prowess on the slopestyle course, though, and that showed again this weekend.
Under bright blue skies in the Central Eastern Alps, Stevenson opened his run with a left nosebutter double 1620 revert Japan, then unleashed a left corked 900 tail tap on the balloon feature. His score of 85.68 trailed only winner Birk Ruud of Norway, the reigning freeski crystal globe winner who scored 88.96, and Switzerland’s Andri Ragettli, who placed second at 87.38.
Fellow American Alex Hall, the defending Olympic champ in the event, was just off the podium in fourth place with a score of 83.71.
The podium finish was Stevenson’s ninth on the world cup circuit, all in slopestyle, and his first since the 2020-21 season when he won the freeski crystal globe. He also won a silver medal in slopestyle at the 2021 world championships.
Meanwhile, Henderson, the 21-year-old from Madbury, New Hampshire, notched her first world cup podium when she hit a big second run. Her tricks included a switch right 900 tail grab on her first hit. Her score of 76.58 put her behind only Johanne Killi of Norway, who won with a score of 81.24, and Kelly Sildaru of Estonia, who scored 78.22. Sildaru is the reigning Olympic bronze medalist.
The next slopestyle skiing world cup is scheduled for Jan. 12-14 in Font Romeu, France, while big air and halfpipe contests loom Dec. 14-17 at the U.S. Grand Prix in Copper Mountain, Colorado.