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Alaska snowboarder Ryan Stassel dazzles in gold-medal slopestyle run

Anchorage snowboarder Ryan Stassel struggled for words Wednesday after becoming the first American to win a world championship in slopestyle.

"I'm speechless," he told reporters in Kreischberg, Austria.

No matter. The statement that mattered was the one Stassel made during the men's finals at the FIS Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championships.

With a winning run punctuated by three 1260s -- tricks that require 3.5 mid-air revolutions -- Stassel, 22, dominated to earn his first gold medal at a major competition. No other rider landed three 1260s.

"I have been working on that run for a long time, and it feels really good to finally pull it all together here at the World Championships," he said.

His score of 97.5 was one of the best in the history of the world championships and easily put him at the top of the standings, well ahead of silver medalist and defending world champion Roope Tonteri of Finland, who was second with 93.75. The bronze medal went to 17-year-old Kyle Mack of West Bloomfield, Michigan, who scored 92.75 points.

Olympic slopestyle champion Sage Kotzenburg of the United States skipped the world championships to compete in this week's X Games in Aspen, Colorado. Stassel will stay in Kreischberg for Friday's big air preliminary competition.

"There were a lot of good riders from all over the world going for gold," Stassel said in a Facebook chat interview with Alaska Dispatch News. "All I knew was I had to do my best to win. I would say this was the best run I have ever landed."

Stassel's first run earned a score of 94.0, the second-best score of the day. He scored 51.0 on his second run and came back with his gold-medal run, earning scores of 98.0 from three of the six judges.

The victory makes Stassel a member of the elite group of winter-sports athletes from Alaska who have won individual world championships, a list that includes Juneau's Hilary Lindh, the 1997 world champion in downhill skiing, and Anchorage's Kikkan Randall, the 2013 world champion in cross-country's team sprint.

"I don't even know what that title means to me. I haven't even thought about it," Stassel told reporters right after his victory.

A little while later, Stassel told Alaska Dispatch News that his accomplishment was beginning to sink in.

"It may be the champagne though," he said.

Gold-medal run

The rundown of Ryan Stassel's 97.50-point victorious run in the men's slopestyle finals at the world championships Wednesday in Austria:

Hardway backside 270 to 50/50 backside rodeo, frontside 1260 double cork, switch backside 1260, frontside boardslide 270 out, backside 1260.

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