The odds-on favourite heading into the Modena ladies’ event was Austria’s Anna Gasser, as the PyeongChang 2018 big air gold medalist came into competition looking to make it three-in-a-row on Italian soil. However, after qualifying in second behind Onitsuka it became clear early on that she would have her work cut out for her up against the strong Japanese team.
Come time for finals, though, it would be Onitsuka’s teammate Iwabuchi stepping up when it counted most, putting down a clean frontside 720 mute on her first jump before blowing the roof off with a silky-smooth backside double corked 1080 mute in her final hit of the competition. Iwabuchi would earn a two-jump score of 166.50 to take her second victory in as many World Cup competitions so far in 2018/19.
“It was a super fun day,” said the 16-year-old, who now has wins in three of the four big air World Cups in her career, “I hurt my hip a little bit crashing on my second run, but no worries. I’m really happy with the win.”
Despite not being able to stomp her own attempt at the double corked 1080, Onitsuka was able to claim second place with a score of 165.00, highlighted by a cab 900 stalefish on her first hit of the evening. Iwabuchi and Onitsuka’s 1-2 finish matched their result from the season-opening Cardrona (NZL) big air World Cup.
Gasser was forced to settle for third on the day with a score of 159.50, nailing her signature cab double underflip 900 on her first hit but unable catch her Japanese competitors with final two attempts.
“I’m pretty happy with third place,” said Gasser, “It was pretty bumpy on the in-run tonight and I wasn’t super comfortable, so I didn’t want to risk too much. But the season is long and I’m already excited to send it more in the next one.”