McMorris and Gasser claim titles at Snowboard Big Air World Cup in Beijing

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Pre-competition favorites Mark McMorris of Canada and Austria's Anna Gasser both lived up to the expectations as they took the men's and women's titles respectively at the Beijing leg of FIS Snowboard Big Air World Cup here on Saturday.

The 23-year-old McMorris, a three-time big air champion at the Winter X Games, held off a strong challenge from New Zealand's teenager Tiarn Collins to win with a total score of 187.00 points.

The 18-year-old Collins, who finished on top in the qualification phase on Friday, had to settle as the runner-up with a 3.25-point deficit.

Thanks to his third round effort of 96.25 points, the highest score of the night, Torgeir Bergrem of Norway rallied to take the third place with a total of 179.75 points.

All the athletes need to stage three jumps in the final with the best two jumps deciding their total scores.

"Each victory is a boost for me and made me feel more confident both physically and psychologically. I am looking forward to the victory at the Winter Olympics Games in Pyeongchang next year," said an ambitious McMorris, who took the bronze medal in the slopestyle event at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Gasser continued her solid form from the qualifications as she built up a clear margin en route to her convincing victory of 175.50 points. It is the second consecutive World Cup win for the 27-year-old Austrian, who also set her feet on the top podium in the opening leg of the current World Cup season in Milan two weeks ago.

Japan's Miyabi Onitsuka finished second with 155.75 points and Enni Rukajarvi of Finland lagged 1.75 points behind to finish third.

With Saturday's victories, McMorris and Gasser can each add 1,000 points to their qualification rankings for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics Games slated for February 9 to 25.

It will be the first time for big air events to be included in the Winter Olypics Games.

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