In the wake of a series of winter storms that dumped nearly three feet of powder the preceding week, X Games Aspen 2017 celebrated it’s 21st year in epic fashion as capacity crowds witnessed the world’s best action sports athletes compete at Buttermilk Mountain. In addition to Snowmobile SnoCross and the Women’s Snowboard Big Air event, most notable to the first day of competition was Shaun White‘s return to the SuperPipe after a marked absence in 2016.
However, the night belonged to Scotty James who took his first-ever gold at X Games with a score of 90.00 on the very first run of competition. Starting off with a massive backside air over 21-feet out of the pipe, the 22-year-old Aussie then took to the sky, launching consecutive 1080s before landing a clean frontside 900 and finishing off his run with a stylish backside double cork 1260.
“It’s Australia Day back home! I’ve been watching X Games since the day I started snowboarding – this is surreal, there’s no other way to say it!”
Last year’s winner Matt Ladley took second on the final run of competition scoring a 80.00, while fellow Coloradan Taylor Gold took third with a 79.00. White, meanwhile, placed 11th, his worst finish since his rookie year in 2000.
The evening also saw the return of the Women’s Snowboard Big Air to Aspen for the first time since 2001. Ultimately it was the youngest competitor at X Games Aspen, 16 -year-old Hailey Langland, pulling off a last minute victory in dramatic fashion.
— Gus Kenworthy (@guskenworthy) January 27, 2017
With just 10 seconds left and sitting in sixth place, Langland dropped into the 80-foot kicker and launched a Cab Double Cork 1080, a feat never before landed in women’s competition.
“I kind of just did that trick for the fist time on accident during practice!”
Flawlessly stomping the trick, it propelled the Southern California native into Gold medal position with a 66.00, taking down Austrian rider Anna Gasser‘s score of 64.00. Julia Marino took third in her first ever X Games with a 61.00.
Earlier in the day the high octane snowmobiles fired up as the underdog Swede, Petter Narsa, took top honors in the SnoCross event. Jockeying for position early on, Narsa had to contend with countryman Adam Renheim‘s fierce riding before eventually securing a lead he would never relinquish. In the end, Narsa took gold, Renhiem grabbed his second straight Silver, with Lincoln Lemieux snagging Bronze. Notably absent from the podium was the dominant Tucker Hibbert who had previously landed nine straight gold medals in SnoCross.
Earlier in the day, Mike Schultz took his sixth straight gold in the Snowmobile SnoCross Adaptive final, edging out Garrett Goodwin and Jeff Tweet who earned silver and bronze respectively.
“We were definitely rubbing some paint out there! It was a lot of fun today – I love seeing all the guys riding so well out here.”
At the same time, the team of Semen Ferotov and Jamie Anderson took top honors in the Special Olympics Unified Giant Slalom race which paired top professionals with Special Olympians in perhaps the most feel good competition of the day.
X Games Aspen continues tomorrow with the all new Snow BikeCross final along with the Women’s Ski SuperPipe final and the the Lifeproof Men’s Ski SuperPipe final followed by a sold-out musical performance by Bassnectar on the GEICO Music Stage. Competition then wraps up with a prime-time showdown as the world’s best riders square off for the America’s Navy Men’s Snowboard Big Air final.