Enni Rukajärvi from Kuusamo won second place in the big air event at the FIS Snowboarding World Championships in Spain on Friday. Her first run, a caballerial 720, and her second run, a backside 720, gave her 165.25 points going into the final run.
But Austrian Anna Gasser’s third run ran away with the win after she threw a perfect backside double cork 1080 – the first time the difficult trick was performed successfully in a woman’s competition – for which she was awarded an historic 100 points.
Big air competitions are focused on rider tricks in the air from a man-made jump, where height and distance are critical factors. Friday was the first time Rukajärvi competed in the big air category, as her previous wins have been in the slopestyle, where snowboard competitors perform tricks while descending a course full of obstacles like rails, jumps and jibs.
The 26-year-old Rukajärvi has performed well in each of the international competitions she has attended. She won the gold medal at the 2011 FIS Snowboarding World Championships in the slopestyle event, slopestyle gold at the 2011 Winter X Games XV in Aspen, and the silver medal in slopestyle at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Rukajärvi knows the worth of medal-winning performances year after year. As the sport develops, the tricks required in the big air event in particular become more and more difficult.
"Silver is a great colour. Everyone tries their best going into these competitions and it’s cool. We’ve got a lot of new snowboarders joining in, a big thumbs up to them," she says.
She will also seek the gold again next year in Korea in both the big air and slopestyle events.
Finnish snowboarders Roope Tonteri and Kalle Järvilehto placed fourth and fifth, respectively, in the men’s big air competition on Friday.