Canada’s Jasmine Baird captures gold at big air World Cup in Edmonton

Jasmine Baird nailed an underflip 900 on her first jump of the night — and never looked back.

The rider from Georgetown, Ont. won gold in Saturday’s FIS World Cup Big Air event at Commonwealth Stadium.

Baird headlined a good night for the Canadian team, as Nicolas Laframboise of Saint Jean, Que. claimed bronze in the men’s event.

WATCH l Baird finishes with collective score of 159.50 points to win big air competition:

Canada’s Jasmine Baird captures gold at snowboard World Cup competition

Georgetown, Ont.’s Jasmine Baird finished with a collective score of 159.50 points to win the big air competition during the FIS Snowboard World Cup event in Edmonton.

Holding the lead through two jumps, Baird rode last in the final round. She watched the other six finalists fail to match her scores, and to a chant of “Jasmine, Jasmine” from the home-nation crowd of 15,000, she launched herself down the 15-storey man-made slope for a celebratory third jump.

“I’ve never had the luxury of a victory lap before,” said Baird. “My coach came up to me and gave me a big hug. I usually don’t like to watch anyone else drop, for some reason. I don’t like to look at the scores. But coach came up, I was the last to drop, and he said, `Congrats on your win.”‘

While Baird was able to enjoy her third jump, Laframboise knew that he had to nail something special in order to get on the podium.

He had performed the backside triple cork 16 in practice, but he never tried the highly technical jump in competition. With a podium on the line, he decided it was the moment for it.

“I wasn’t planning on doing that trick, that got me back into third,” Laframboise said. “It was a new one for me, so I was really stoked that I landed it.”

He finished behind gold-medal winner Valentino Guseli of Australia and American Chris Corning who took silver.

WATCH | Laframboise claims big air bronze:

Nicolas Laframboise earns World Cup snowboard bronze medal

The Saint Jean, Que. native finished with an overall score of 168.00 to place 3rd in the men’s big air competition during the FIS Snowboard World Cup stop in Edmonton.

Laframboise endeared himself to the crowd by wearing an Edmonton Oilers jersey as he made his jumps.

“If we’re at this stadium, I am for sure going to wear one. It was a crowd pleaser, I’ll keep that going for sure,” he said.

Baird, whose dad was in attendance, said it was the first time he’d been able to see her perform in person at a World Cup event.

Belgium’s Evy Poppe grabbed silver. Reira Iwabuchi, the Japanese rider who won the season-opening event in Switzerland, fell on her first jump, but recovered in the final two jumps to take bronze.

Iwabuchi and Baird are now tied atop the overall World Cup standings.

Japan’s Kokomo Murase pulled out of the competition Saturday, adding to a high number of riders who refused the man-made slope in Edmonton. On Friday, the women’s qualifying session was delayed, then cut to two runs from three. Only 13 of the 21 riders slated to compete actually got up to the starting gate. Riders had expressed concerns about how slow the course was, and that they were struggling to get the air needed to complete their routines.

In the final, Poppe and Iwabuchi were flung out of the gate by their coaches, so they could build enough speed to jump.

“It’s been really, really tough, for sure,” said Baird. “Compared to the boys, a lot of our field are just lighter than them. Without that weight behind us, it’s harder to get that speed. Everyone’s pinning it, everyone’s doing their absolute best, but it was really tight.

“People were getting pushed from behind or launched by their coaches, there were pull bars up there like they’d have in a race, and I`ve never seen that before. It was definitely a challenge.”

Blouin has big wipeout in warmups

Fellow Canadian Laurie Blouin had a big wipeout in warmups, and didn’t perform any flips in her first jump attempt. She finished fifth.

The men also had their troubles with the slope.

“The jump is amazing, but it is tight for speed, so you had to go super straight,” said Canada’s Cameron Spalding, who finished seventh.

However, Spalding praised the grounds crew for doing what they had to do to create what he called an “amazing experience” to hold a World Cup event in Canada’s largest stadium.

Three-time Olympic medallist Mark McMorris of Regina attempted a spectacular backside triple 1800, but did not stick the landing. He finished ninth.