Though the weather remained cold, dipping to a balmy 4 degrees, the action heated up for day two of X Games Aspen 2017.
As competition kicked off at Buttermilk Mountain, a crowd total of 23,000 people gathered en mass, fueling the intensity of the world’s most talented winter sports athletes. With both men and women’s Ski SuperPipe Finals taking center stage, the focus then shifted to a sold-out musical performance by Bassnectar before the atmosphere turned nothing short of electric for the America’s Navy Men’s Snowboard Big Air Final.
But first, a new event. Making it’s debut at X Games Aspen this year, Snow BikeCross brought the excitement of SuperCross racing to the SnoCross course with modified dirt bikes in which the front tire is replaced with a ski and the rear fitted with a snowmobile track. In the end, the action didn’t disappoint as favorite Brock Hoyer from Williams Lake, British Columbia, took the inaugural gold medal in the event.
“I can’t explain the feelings I’m going through right now! I’ve been racing my whole life and nothing compares to winning at X Games!” said gold medalist Brock Hoyer.
Despite a fall in the early stages of the race, Hoyer, who has in many ways pioneered the sport, eventually regained the lead beating EnduroCross racer Colton Haaker by ten seconds as the checkered flag was waived. Taking third was fellow Canadian Cody Matechuk.
As the chilly evening set in, the Women’s Ski SuperPipe Final kicked off a night to remember with the 32-year-old Marie Martinod blasting her way to gold. Only the second mother to ever win X Games gold, a feat she first accomplished in Tignes 2014, Martinod took the victory in convincing fashion scoring a 89.33 on her fist run.
“My dad died last year and I had a really hard 2016 so I kept believing that skiing was the best thing for me – and it’s true!” Marie Martinod said.
Landing a succession of tricks including back-to-back 540s and back-to-back flair’s before capping off the run with a 900 tail grab, it was enough to hold off Japan’s Anaya Ozozuka, whose technical run scored an 87.00. Coming in third was South Lake Tahoe’s Maddie Bowman with a score of 86.00. Bowman had won the event each of the four previous years.
Conditions proved tricky for competitors in the LifeProof Men’s Ski SuperPipe Final with Colorado’s own Aaron Blunck taking home his first-ever X Games medal, and a gold at that. As one of the only riders able to land an entire run, Blunck, who put down back-to-back switch double corks in the middle of the pipe before riding away from a right side double 1260 on his final hit secured the win with a 84.66.
“I have never landed a complete X Games run – that was my first!” gold medalist Aaron Blunck said.
Snagging silver was the young Kiwi, Miguel Porteous, whose fiery determination and clean style earned him an 81.00, while Noah Bowman rounded out the podium with a 71.00.
However, the night reached new heights as Canadian rider Max Parrot took the gold in the America’s Navy Men’s Snowboard Big Air event. Making history by landing the first-ever quadruple underflip, a trick never before seen at X Games, the 22-year-old solidified his second straight win at the Big Air event with a combined two-trick score of 83.00, narrowly beating out Norway’s young Marcus Kleveland score of 82.00 by one point.
“That’s a scary, scary trick but now look, I have this gold thing around my neck,” gold medalist Max Parrot said after landing the first-ever quadruple underflip.
Kleveland himself landed a backside quadruple cork 1800, another trick never been done before in competition, stunning the crowd and judges alike. Scoring his 12th X Games medal with a score of 73.00 was Mark McMorris whose stylish efforts earned him a bronze.
With the arrival of the weekend, X Games Aspen 2017 is now in full effect with Saturday’s line up to include the Jeep Men’s Ski Slopestyle Finals, Jeep Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle Finals, Monster Energy Snowmobile Freestyle Finals, GoPro Men’s Ski Big Air and Women’s Ski Big Air Finals as well as the Real Cost Women’s Snowboard SuperPipe Final. All that, and musical performances by Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals and The Chainsmokers on the GEICO Music Stage.