Canada's Sébastien Toutant leads snowboard slopestyle World Cup standings after 5th place finish
Reigning Olympic champ Redmond Gerard of U.S. wins gold at Mammoth Mountain
Canada's Sébastien Toutant remained atop the snowboard slopestyle World Cup standings after finishing fifth at Mammoth Mountain on Saturday in the second event of the season.
The 29-year-old from L'Assomption, Que., posted a score of 69.18 in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., to finish one spot behind top Canadian Darcy Sharpe of Comox, B.C., (69.60).
Reigning Olympic champion Redmond Gerard of the U.S. won gold on home snow after scoring 82.88, while Niek van der Velden of the Netherlands claimed silver with 76.56. New Zealand's Tiarn Collins rounded out the podium (73.44).
Gerard topped the slopestyle podium at the 2018 Olympic Games to become the youngest men's snowboarding gold medallist in Olympic history, while Toutant captured big air gold at the same Olympics.
Fellow 2018 Olympian Mark McMorris of Regina finished ninth with a score of 61.80. The 28-year-old won slopestyle bronze at both the 2014 and 2018 Olympics, with the latter coming just 11 months after his catastrophic snowboard crash in the B.C. backcountry.
Fellow Canadians Francis Jobin of Quebec City and Liam Brearley of Gravenhurst, Ont., finished 35th and 39th, respectively.
Toutant claimed the first slopestyle gold medal of the World Cup season in Calgary on the first day of the year.
He holds top spot in the slopestyle World Cup standings with 145 points, followed by Gerard with 100 and van der Velden with 93. McMorris is fifth with 79 points.
WATCH l FIS snowboard World Cup slopestyle competition at Mammoth Mountain:
Anderson wins women's slopestyle gold
The women's event also saw an American come out on top as Jamie Anderson won gold after posting a score of 86.32 on her second run to deny New Zealand's Zoi Sadowski-Synnott, who held top spot after earning 82.50 on her first run.
Japanese phenom Kokomo Murase won bronze with a score of 77.94 on her opening run.
No Canadians competed in the women's race.
The third of six snowboard World Cup events will be held next weekend in Laax, Switzerland
WATCH l Toutant reflects on winning Olympic gold:
White withdraws with lingering virus symptoms: report
Shaun White's withdrawal from Saturday's event came after the American athlete experienced lingering COVID-19 symptoms, including fatigue and shortness of breath, The Associated Press has learned.
A person familiar with White's decision told The AP his early exit does not impact his plans to compete at the Beijing Olympics next month. The person requested anonymity because White has not publicly disclosed the reason for his withdrawal.
Last week, White revealed he had tested positive for COVID-19 in December but had been cleared to ride in Mammoth Mountain and was on the mend. White, who had asthma as a child, said the virus was like "a lingering cold."
White joined champion skier Mikaela Shiffrin and skater Alysa Liu on the list of high-profile Olympic hopefuls to contract COVID-19 in the lead-up to the Games.
The U.S. team has until Jan. 21 to name the full snowboarding team. Only one man, Taylor Gold, has secured a spot, but coaches can award up to three discretionary spots on the halfpipe team and White, a three-time Olympic gold medallist who is ranked 14th in the world, meets all the conditions to receive one.
White went through the first run of Saturday's qualifying round and made it easily into the finals. But when the finals started. White was a no-show. U.S. coach Mike Jankowski said White had aggravated an ankle injury, but the person who spoke to The AP said White's ankle was not an issue and it was COVID-19 symptoms that led him to call it a night.
Jankowski did not immediately return phone messages left by The AP.
Rough lead-up to Olympics
This marked the latest setback for the 35-year-old White, who is hoping to compete in his fifth Olympics. At the Dew Tour in December, he was riding well, but a broken binding during his first run in the final threw a wrench in his plans and led to a seventh-place finish. He had finished eighth in a separate qualifier the week earlier.
White also finished fourth last March in a designated qualifying event, but has fallen short of a podium finish that would secure a spot under the U.S. Ski and Snowboard team's "objective criteria" for qualifying.
Despite the rough lead-up to the Olympics, It's hard to imagine a scenario in which the team wouldn't give White a discretionary spot.
"[White] just wants to train and keep working hard and keep getting better," Jankowski said Saturday night. "He's hoping the spot where he's at now holds solid and that he's able to get the nomination to the team."
With files from The Associated Press