Troy Podmilsak looks back on big air world title |

Troy Podmilsak looks back on big air world title

18-year-old Parkite lands triple cork 2160 to win gold

Park City's Troy Podmilsak executes a trick in the big air World Cup freestyle skiing finals in Copper Mountain in December.
AP Photo/Hugh Carey

Park City teenager Troy Podmilsak’s dreams of winning big air at this year’s world championships in Bakuriani, Georgia, started out as a nightmare – literally. 

Heading into the March 4 competition, Podmilsak was feeling plenty of nerves. He knew that he was going to attempt a triple cork 2160, which he had only tried on an airbag, but when he drifted off to sleep and attempted it in his dream, it didn’t go very well. 

“In my dream, I tried that trick and got paralyzed,” he said. “I woke up, and that was how I started my morning. I was super, super nervous, but as I got closer to doing the trick, my confidence just got higher and higher and higher until I when I was going in, I almost didn’t feel anything.”

Reality was a different story, however. On his second jump of the competition, Podmilsak soared through the air and spun as fast as he could. Instead of landing on his back, he landed on his feet with ease. Podmilsak scored a 96.50 on the attempt, and that, along with a 91.25 on his first jump, was enough to secure a world championship gold medal.

The Parkite made it look so easy that the judges originally thought it was an 1800. 

“If you told me two years ago that I was going to be the world champ, I maybe would have believed you, but I think I had a really good faith in myself that I would be world champ,” Podmilsak said.

“But I didn’t think it was going to happen this soon. I thought maybe the next world championship. I didn’t think it was going to be this one.”

Troy Podmilsak, shown here in a World Cup stop last December at Copper Mountain, won the big air event at this year’s world championships, earlier in March.
AP Photo/Hugh Carey

The triple cork 2160 originally wasn’t in the cards for Podmilsak. But after finishing the qualification round as the last person in his heat to move to the finals, he knew he wanted to try it.

“That really upset me, and I think I just kind of took it personally,” he said. “I was like, ‘You know what? I’m going to show everybody I do not deserve to be in last right now. I’m going to pull this out and win. I don’t care if I get hurt, I don’t care. I’m so mad right now that I’m going to do this trick no matter what.'”

Podmilsak was going to need all of the confidence and courage he could muster because even on an airbag this summer, his previous attempts hadn’t ended well.

“Every single time, I would land on my head, and so that didn’t give me that much confidence coming into this event,” he said. “I hadn’t trained it on an airbag or anything, and I just tried it on snow. And it was the first time in that event because it’s too dangerous to do that trick multiple times, so I was like, ‘OK, it’s a one and done. I’m going to try it this one time, and that’ll be it.’ And I tried it, and luckily everything went well for me.”

Recent results had also factored into Podmilsak’s decision to go for it. The Parkite had his first career World Cup podium finish in big air when he came in third place in October in Switzerland and also had a sixth-place result in another big air World Cup at Copper Mountain in December. Additionally, Podmilsak made his Winter X Games debut in January and said he was disappointed when he came in sixth. He was tired of coming up just short.

“I was really sick of losing, I was just sick of it,” Podmilsak said. “I couldn’t stand the fact that I wasn’t up there with all of the top guys. I was kind of, like, fifth and sixth and not really doing the best I knew that I could do. I knew I had more. I promised myself that I was going to get a bit risky on that world champs. I was going to risk it all. That’s what you’ve got to do to win.”

Per an FIS release, Podmilsak became the first skier to put down a forward triple 2160 in competition. He credited those same nerves for helping him land it this time around.

“You get this special type of power when you’re competing – everything is just better, you’re nervous, the nerves are really helping you to make sure you’re on point,” he said. “On the airbag, I had the option to fail or bail out. I could land on my back and be OK. But on this one, I had no options. Either I land it, or I do go home in an ambulance, so I had no other options, I had to land it.”

While it was the nerves that helped him win a world title, he’s hoping to carry the confidence he gained from winning into the future. This weekend is the first of two slopestyle World Cups to close out the season. Podmilsak hopes to land on a slopestyle podium at some point as well, but that confidence is key, too. 

“Definitely that confidence from winning the world champs,” he said. “I just want to take all of that confidence because when you’re skiing confident, you’re skiing good.”

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