Day three at X Games Aspen 2017 certainly lived up to the hype.
With a total of six competitions including the Monster Energy Snowmobile Freestyle Final, the Real Cost Women’s Snowboard SuperPipe Final and the GoPro Men’s Ski Big Air Final, the levels of fun, intensity and all out exuberance reach a zenith as a crowd showed up for Saturday’s action. All this plus musical performances by Anderson .Paak & the Free Nations and The Chainsmokers in front of a sold out crowd on the GEICO Music Stage provided athletes and spectators alike a day that won’t soon be forgotten.
Kicking things off, the boys set the tone for the day during the Jeep Men’s Ski Slopestyle event as 21-year-old Oystein Braaten grabbed his first X Games gold on his second and final run of the competition. After crashing on his first run, the pressure was on as the young Norwegian dropped into the rail section with some creative moves including a double rail transfer to 450 out. It was his style and technicality on the jumps however, that secured his win. With a switch right double cork 1080 and a perfectly executed tripe cork 1440 safety grab, judges awarded him a 94.33, enough to bump McRae Williams first run score of 93.33 into second. Canadian skier Alex Beaulieu-Marchand took home a bronze with a 92.00.
“I was so scared after my first run because I crashed on a trick I have been adding all week. So to come back and put my run together is just amazing,” Braaten said.
Second place winner McRae Williams commented on the ski conditions this afternoon, stating “Couldn’t have been better. The temperature is perfect, the snow is perfect – it was a good day!”
Next up, the Jeep Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle ushered in a new champion as rookie Julia Marino scored her first ever X Games gold. Competing in her first ever X Games, if Marino had nerves they didn’t show as her second run score of 94.66 propelled her from last to first with a progressive jump line that include a backside 720, a frontside 540 and an miraculous cab double cork underflip.
“Honestly, this doesn’t feel like real life.”
Jamie Anderson meanwhile scored a 91.33 taking her fifth consecutive silver medal with a stylish run despite coming off an injury sustained during Thursday’s Big Air event. “After that crash the other night I just need to chill my energy,” Anderson said.
Snagging bronze, judges award British rider Katie Ormerod a score of 80.33.
Over at the Monster Energy Snowmobile Freestyle Finals it came down to the final competitor on his final run to take the victory. That man, defending champ Joe Parsons ripped through the track wowing the crown with variations on backflip after backflip. However it was a new move coined the “Jolt” in which Parsons basically danced a compete 360 around his sled in mid-air that secured his victory. This move effectively slid Colten Moore into second with Levi LaVallee holding on for third.
“In past years I have probably stressed too much about it,” Colten Moore said about his finish. “These days, to come here and ride in my brothers name is just all about fun for me.”
As the sun set history was made once again as Lisa Zimmermann from Germany won the inaugural Women’s Ski Big Air by shocking everyone with a switch double cork 1080, the first ever landed in competition. Zimmerman, who in her first X Games narrowly beat out last year’s Slopestyle gold medalist, teen phenom Kelly Sildaru.
“I have been waiting 3 or 4 years for an invitation to X Games so it means a lot to win the first year they called me!” Zimmerman said after her big win.
Taking third with an impressive showing was another rookie Giulia Tanno. That’s right, the podium at Women’s Ski Big Air consisted of two rookies and a 14-year-old!
Conditions remained chilly as the ladies pushed their personal limits as well as the limits of gravity during The Real Cost Women’s Snowboard SuperPipe Finals. It may have taken fourteen years but tonight belonged to Elena Hight as she earned her first X Games gold riding with both power and style. After initially launching a giant method air on her first hit, Hight began to dissect the pipe tossing back-to-back 720’s followed by a pair of 900’s before capitalizing with her signature alley-oop backside rodeo to end her run.
“I didn’t even come out tonight thinking about a gold medal. I just wanted to ride my hardest and put down a run I had been having a lot of trouble with. I’m truly lost for words,” Hight said about her first victory in 14 attempts.
Earning a 87.33, Hight edged out China’s Xuetong Cai‘s first run score of 85.00. Surprising everyone, Chloe Kim, who had won the previous four X Games SuperPipe competitions was only able to put down enough for a score of 81.00 on her final run, enough for bronze.
Closing down the stacked day was the always impressive GoPro Ski Men’s Big Air. Winning the competition with his technical mastery was James Woods and his switch triple cork opti-grab, a trick that left the rest of the field scratching their heads. Right behind him was Henrik Harlaut whose efforts placed him second just above Switzerland’s Kai Mahler. With this, Woods became the first British athlete to win gold at X Games Aspen.
X Games Aspen 2017 wraps tomorrow with another stacked stay of competition including the Jeep Women’s Ski Slopestyle, the Jeep Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle Final and the highly anticipated Snowmobile Best Trick Final in which Caleb Moore and Heath Frisby are rumored to be attempting the world’s first double backflip. Festivities then officially conclude with the smooth sounds of G-Eazy on the GEICO Music Stage.