Crowds gathered to the tune of 25,700 at Buttermilk Mountain on Friday (January 29) to bear witness to a progressive day in action sports at X Games Aspen 2016.
After 10 X Games appearances, Canada’s Spencer O’Brien won her first gold today edging out the four-time X Games gold medalist Jaime Anderson in the Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle competition.
“It somehow came together today,” Spencer O’Brien shared about her first ever gold medal at X Games. “It’s been ten years at X Games so it’s a long time coming. Ever since I was a little girl this is what I’ve wanted!”
Scoring a 91.00 on her second attempt, O’Brien put together a run that was not only technically proficient with tricks like a switch backside 720 and frontside 720 off her toes, but also filled with style and precise execution. Anderson’s final run scored 89.00, enough for silver, with a surprise third place going to 15-year-old X Games rookie Hailey Langland who showed board control beyond her years.
Immediately to follow was the Women’s Ski Slopestyle where history was made by 13-year-old Kelly Sildaru of Estonia. On her first run of the day, she scored 93.00 after showcasing tricks like a technical switch left side 900, right side 720 and a massive left side 900 to finish it off.
Norway’s Tiril Sjåstad Christiansen claimed second with a score of 91.66 on her third and final run while Johanne Killi’s score of 85.66 was enough to solidify third. With the win Sildaru has become the youngest competitor to ever win gold at an X Games winter event, and the first X Games medalist from Estonia.
Once the sun set, the engines fired up at the Monster Energy Snowmobile Freestyle which made its return to X Games after a one year hiatus.
Joe Parsons brought out some of the most exciting action of the weekend en route to victory highlighted by a trick called the Parsby Flip in which after a perfectly executed backflip, Parsons reversed his body position and rode away facing backwards. Parsons score of 90.00 landed him in first with relative ease. Heath Frisby placed second with a 87.66 followed by Canadian Brett Turcotte in third scoring a 86.66.
On landing a backflip backwards, Joe Parsons says, “Because it’s not a very fun trick to practice tonight was the first time I haven’t tried that trick in over a year. It was the best one I’ve ever done too!”
The spotlight turned next to the Women’s Ski SuperPipe and Maddie Bowman, despite battling through a knee injury the past year, was able to secure her fourth X Games gold.
“It feels pretty amazing,” Maddie Bowman shares. “I love X Games, it’s my favorite event and my favorite time of year. To be on top after a couple of injuries is amazing. It wasn’t easy this time!”
By consistently going bigger than the rest of the field, the South Lake Tahoe native started her run with an impressive combo of back-to-back 900s followed by an alley-oop flatspin 540 before capping off her run with a switch 1080 on her final hit. Bowman’s score of 87.33 edged out Japan’s Ayana Onozuka’s 85.00 and third place Annalisa Drew who scored a 83.00.
America’s Navy Big Air competition closed out the night and the crowd provided athletes the energy needed to bring their best to Aspen.
Adding to the progression of the sport, Canadian Max Parrot took gold landing a never-before-seen-in-
On landing the first-ever cab triple cork 1800, Max Parrot shares the following, “I only every did that trick once because I never had the jump for it. You actually get a little bit dizzy after.”
Defending champ Mark McMorris placed second with a 91.00 followed closely by Yuki Kadono’s third place score of 88.00.
“X Games Big Air always makes you try new tricks. Usually I’d be too scared to try these tricks but the fans are so great and the jump is really state of the art. To me, X Games is the Super Bowl of action sports so getting any medal means a lot to me,” Mark McMorris says.
Wrapping up the night, musical act twenty one pilots played to a sold-out crowd to cap day two at X Games Aspen.
Competition continues Saturday with the highly anticipated Intel Snowboard Men’s SuperPipe, Mono Skier X, Coors Light Skier X Men’s and Women’s and the Go Pro Ski Big Air competitions. Legendary DJ deadmau5 will hit the main stage to highlight the evening’s lineup following the competition.