Mia Brookes’ Bakuriani 2023 slopestyle performance deserves all the ink that is going to be spent on it in the coming days, as the just-turned-16-year-old came through with a second and final run that will go down in snowboarding history.
On Monday Mia Brookes became the first woman to land a 1440 in competition (and possibly the first woman to land a 1440, full stop), while besting two-time reigning slopestyle World Champion and Olympic gold medallist Zoi Sadowski-Synnott (NZL) to become the youngest FIS Snowboard World Champion in history.
Mia Brookes had already shown us she was capable of breaking boundaries without warning when she become the first woman to land a flat-spinning 1260 at the Kreischberg big air World Cup in January, but on Monday she take things one step - and 180 degrees - further, in the middle of her slopestyle run at Bakuriani’s Didveli Resort.
Known as a wizard on the rails long before she made her World Cup debut last season, Brookes opened her run with some trademark technicality, with a half-cab on to 360 out on the first rail, into a backside 360 to 50-50 on the second rail.
On the first jump, she then went frontside 720 Indy, into a backside 900 Indy on jump two.
Jump three was where Brookes shocked the world, launching into an unannounced switch frontside 1440 melon - which she double grabbed throughout the rotation before stomping clean - that will go down in history as a landmark moment for the sport. The fact that she stomped her never-been-done trick in the middle of a slopestyle run and not as a one-off in a big air competition makes it all the more staggering.
Brookes run wasn’t over after the 1440, however, as she followed that up with a switch boardslide 270 tail grab out on the canon rail, before going with a half-cab into the wallride, to alley-oop 50-50 to 180 out on the big blue tube, and finally finishing things off with another mind-melter - a 50-50 to frontside 270 to frontside boardslide to regular that could have scored in the 8’s if she was being judged the men’s competition.
Add it all up and you’ve got a score of 91.38 and the youngest World Champion in FIS Snowboard history.
“I honestly feel like I’m going to cry,” an elated Brookes said from the finish area, “I have never been so happy in my life. I can’t even speak I’m that happy.”
“I was at the top of the course and my coach said, ‘If you want to win this just try the 1440.’ I tried the 1260 in practice, I came around and almost went 1440, so I knew it was possible on this jump. I tried it [the 1440] once before in Absolute Park but this is the first time I’ve stomped it so I am super happy.”
While top qualifier Sadowski-Synnott would drop in just after Brookes in the final run of the women’s competition, the 21-year-old wasn’t able to summon the kind of magic that she did at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, where she dropped in the same position and stomped a remarkable final run to claim Olympic gold.
Instead, Sadowski-Synnott would lose control in the landing of jump three and ride out of the course, skipping the final two features and reverting to her 88.78-scoring first run for the silver medal.
“Winning a medal here means a lot to me since it’s my last slopestyle competition of the season,” said Sadowski-Synnott, “And it’s sick to land my run. Of course, I wanted to try and back up the World Champion title, but I did everything I could and I am so stoked for Mia. Mia is leading a snowboarding competition at the moment, especially on the jumps, and pushing all of us girls to ride our best.”
Sadwoski-Synnott's Bakuriani 2023 silver was the fifth medal of her World Championships career, putting her into a tie with Seppe Smits (BEL) for the most ever by a snowboard Park & Pipe competitor.
Bronze would go to the woman that Brookes displaced as the youngest World Champion in FIS Snowboard history, 24-year-old Miyabi Onitsuka of Japan - winner of the Kreischberg 2015 World Championships just over eight years ago, also at the age of 16 but two months older than Brookes is now - returned to the World Championships podium for the fourth time in her career after earning a score of 83.05 for her first run.