The Burton U.S. Open, snowboarding’s most storied event, canceled its 2021 competition due to uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
“The truth is, we just can’t be sure it will be safe from a public health standpoint for us to host the event in 2021,” a statement read.
The U.S. Open, held since 1982, is usually around the first weekend in March, making it the season-ending event for many riders. Halfpipe champions include Shaun White, Chloe Kim, Kelly Clark and Ross Powers, who also earned Olympic gold medals.
Other 2020-21 winter sports events affected by the coronavirus pandemic include figure skating’s Junior Grand Prix. The first two stops of that eight-event series, scheduled for late August and early September in Canada and Slovakia, have been canceled.
The Italian Winter Sports Federation, which is due to put on the February 2021 World Alpine Skiing Championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo, made a formal request on Monday to postpone the event until March 2022, one month after the next Winter Olympics in Beijing. The International Ski Federation (FIS) council will decide July 1.
Most ski sports don’t hold world championships in even-numbered years, but the coronavirus pandemic brought World Cup campaigns to an early conclusion two years ahead of the Beijing Olympics.
With the seasons over, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team is collecting goggles to provide to health-care workers.
Here’s what we learned in various sports:
ALPINE: Mikaela Shiffrin has company
The U.S. ski star was on pace to win her fourth straight World Cup season trophy before her father’s sudden passing in early February. She planned to return in March with an outside chance at keeping her title, but the remaining races of the season were canceled. Italy’s Federica Brignone took the trophy, with Shiffrin second.
While Shiffrin held a substantial lead in the World Cup before her hiatus, she wasn’t as unbeatable as she was in the 2018-19 season, when she won a staggering 17 times. That’s an impossible bar to clear, but Shiffrin’s rivals made up enough ground to make future World Cup season titles and the career win record seem less certain than they seemed a year ago.
In Shiffrin’s final slalom race, a discipline in which she has rarely lost in recent years, she placed third behind Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova and Sweden’s Anna Swenn Larsson. Ten days before that, she was second to Vlhova, whose progress impressed Shiffrin. That marked that first time since 2014 that she lost two straight slaloms in the same season. (She was second in the 2016-17 season finale and second again in the 2017-18 season opener, then won 12 of the next 13 slaloms.)
Shiffrin’s ability to get on the podium in any race, no matter the discipline, will make her the World Cup favorite for years to come. But the big prize won’t be as easy as she has made it seem in recent years, and at 66 career victories, she’ll need time to catch Lindsey Vonn‘s women’s record of 82 wins and Ingemar Stenmark‘s overall record of 86.
CROSS-COUNTRY: Diggins, Bjornsen stay in world’s elite
Jessie Diggins will forever be remembered for winning the 2018 Olympic team sprint with Kikkan Randall as NBC’s Chad Salmela screamed “HERE COMES DIGGINS,” but she also has a strong World Cup resume that she continues to build.
Diggins finished sixth in the season standings for the second straight year, a drop from her second-place finish in 2018 but still comfortably in the top 10. She was joined there by Sadie Maubet Bjornsen, who eighth-place season put her in the top 10 for the second time.
Bjornsen led the three-stage season opener in Ruka, Finland, after taking third in the sprint and finished fourth overall, one place ahead of Diggins, who took third in the pursuit. Diggins added four more podium finishes before the end of the season.
NORDIC COMBINED: Norway takes control
Jarl Magnus Riiber won his second straight World Cup title at age 22, with fellow Norwegian Joergen Graabak taking a career-high second. Two more Norwegians were in the top six — Jens Luraas Oftebro (fourth) and Espen Bjoernstad (sixth).
In women’s Nordic combined, which is on track to become an Olympic event, U.S. athlete Tara Geraghty-Moats was a close second to Russia’s Stefaniya Nadymova.
A decade after leading the charge to get women’s ski jumping in the Olympics and eight years after teenager Sarah Hendrickson won the World Cup, the U.S. women went a whole season without an athlete picking up World Cup points. Hendrickson postponed her retirement but competed only on the Continental Cup this season.
U.S. women also won two of the first three ski jumping world championships — Lindsey Van in 2009 and Hendrickson in 2013.
In men’s jumping, Austria’s Stefan Kraft edged out Germany’s Karl Geiger to reclaim the World Cup title he last held in 2017. Geiger’s previous career best was 10th in 2019. Japan’s Ryoyu Kobayashi, last year’s champion, took third.
FREESTYLE SKIING: Blunck keeps flying
U.S. halfpipe skier Aaron Blunck followed up his second straight world championship in 2019 with his first World Cup season title. Blunck won both events in the U.S. — December’s competition at Copper Mountain and February’s event at Mammoth Mountain.
Colby Stevenson (slopestyle) and Alexander Hall (big air) were second in their events. Hall won twice, landing a switch left double 1800 to win in the Atlanta Braves’ SunTrust Park. Stevenson also won at the X Games in Aspen.
In women’s competition, 18-year-old Marin Hamill was second in slopestyle, and Jaelin Kauf finished in the top three for the third straight year.
French skier Perrine Laffont had a dominant season in women’s moguls, winning all six regular moguls events and two of four dual moguls, to take her second straight World Cup title.
SNOWBOARDING: Corning wins in Atlanta and in World Cup
Atlanta’s SunTrust Park hosted a World Cup big air competition, with Chris Corning and Japan’s Reira Iwabuchi winning. Corning also won in Cardrona, New Zealand, and took his second big air season title to go along with slopestyle titles in 2016, 2018 and 2019.
Dusty Henricksen was third in World Cup slopestyle on the strength of a win at Mammoth Mountain, followed by fellow U.S. teen Justus Henkes.
U.S. women’s snowboarders Jamie Anderson and Julia Marino won the only World Cup slopestyle events each one entered. Anderson also won the X Games slopestyle.
Olympic and world halfpipe champion Chloe Kim sat out the season after breaking an ankle in March 2019 and enrolling at Princeton.
BIATHLON: Never count out Dunklee
Susan Dunklee hasn’t had great success on the World Cup circuit since taking a world championship silver medal in 2017, when she finished a career-best 10th in the World Cup, but she once again took world championship silver in the sprint at Antholz.
Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Boe won the men’s World Cup title despite missing two weeks after the birth of his first child, edging Frenchman Martin Fourcade by two points to spoil the seven-time World Cup champion’s final season.
Boe won his second straight World Cup title, as did Italy’s Dorothea Weirer in the women’s competition.
Jamie Anderson said last week’s X Games title — her sixth dating to 2007 — was probably her most meaningful of her Aspen triumphs.
“Just because I’m 29,” she said. “I’ve been snowboarding for so long and competing for so long. To see the new generation and know that I still have it is pretty awesome.”
Anderson, the two-time Olympic slopestyle champion and the only female snowboarder with multiple golds, returns to her native California this weekend for the U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain.
NBC Sports airs live coverage of the freeskiing and snowboard event Friday through Sunday. All broadcasts will stream on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for subscribers.
Anderson took even more satisfaction from her 13th X Games Aspen slopestyle medal, one for every one of her appearances in the discipline dating to 2006, when she debuted at 15.
She suffered a bad big air crash at X Games the previous year, leaving temporary scars between her eyes and forcing her to pull out of slopestyle.
Anderson crashed on the same big air trick — a front double 1080 — in practice for a Dec. 20 contest at the Atlanta Braves’ SunTrust Park. She separated the AC joint in one of her shoulders and took a month off.
Anderson returned for X Games last week. Big air was again her first event. She crashed at least three times in five runs.
“I was a little bit standoffish, and I didn’t ride so well,” she said. “I think, partially, I had a little bit of the fear from the crash in the past. Thankfully, I took that energy and put it into slopestyle.”
In slope two days later, Anderson showcased her strength of spinning all four directions and reversed her rails from run to run. That worked well with the competition’s new scoring format — a jam session, where riders were ranked on overall impression rather than a single best run. She tried a front double 10 on her last run but wasn’t able to land it.
Still, Anderson beat a field that included Olympic silver and bronze medalists Laurie Blouin of Canada and Enni Rukajärvi of Finland, 2019 X Games champion Zoi Sadowski-Synnott of New Zealand and Olympic big air champion Anna Gasser of Austria.
This week, Anderson expects family members (she’s one of eight kids) in attendance. The South Lake Tahoe native won in Mammoth at her last two starts in 2017 and 2018.
“Mammoth kind of is a special place because I grew up coming here in the beginning of my career,” she said of a resort where Shaun White and Chloe Kim also plied their trade. “It was kind of the place to be for pro snowboarders.”
Anderson isn’t sure what her contest future holds beyond the Beijing Olympics in two years. She’s working on a snowboarding film project, “Leap Year,” with her partners.
“For a lot of years, it was pretty easy to win. I kind of just had to show up. Now I really have to freakin’ send it and do things out of my comfort zone and try new tricks,” she said. “Maybe one [more] Olympics, and then start freakin’ having a family and riding more backcountry, but I don’t totally know. I’m open to whatever is meant to be.”