X Games: Mark McMorris breaks Shaun White record on quest for first Olympic gold

Mark McMorris
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Canadian Mark McMorris won a record-breaking sixth Winter X Games snowboard slopestyle title, moving one ahead of Shaun White‘s tally, but there is still one gaping hole in his resume: an Olympic gold medal.

“Of course it’s something that I really want to get, and it’s something I know I can get,” McMorris, who won his 21st career X Games medal, said before the event. “But it’s not going to make or break me.”

On Saturday, he landed a switch backside triple cork 1620 stalefish, frontside triple cork 1440 Weddle and a backside triple cork 1620 Indy on his fourth run in Aspen, Colorado. Athletes are ranked on overall impression of their best run over the course of a jam session for the entire field rather than scoring individual runs.

He beat a field that included the world’s top two ranked slopestyle riders — 2018 Olympic champion Red Gerard (fourth place Saturday) and Norwegian Marcus Kleveland (second place). Kleveland came back to win snowboard big air later Saturday with a backside quad cork 1800 Indy and a Cab 1800 Weddle.

At 28, McMorris is headed to his third Olympics. The greatest slopestyle rider in history took bronze in 2014 and in 2018, coming back from major injury obstacles.

Ahead of Sochi, he suffered a broken rib at X Games 12 days before slopestyle’s Olympic debut, earning him the nickname “McRib.”

Ten months before PyeongChang, he crashed into a tree while backcountry riding and suffered a fractured jaw, fractured left arm, ruptured spleen, stable pelvic fracture, rib fractures and a collapsed left lung.

After missing last year’s X Games due to COVID-19, McMorris was thankful simply to be in Aspen. Next up: Beijing.

Earlier, Jamie Anderson kept pace with McMorris with her 21st X Games medal across all sites, a silver in snowboard big air. Anderson also took silver in slopestyle on Friday behind the same gold medalist, New Zealand’s Zoi Sadowski-Synnott, who hit a frontside double cork 1080 melon and a backside 1260.

Anderson, the two-time Olympic slopestyle champion, goes into Beijing with medal chances in both events. But Sadowski-Synnott is ranked No. 1 in the world in slopestyle, Anderson’s better event, and looking to become her nation’s first Winter Olympic champion.

Japan’s Sena Tomita won a women’s snowboard halfpipe contest that lacked Olympic champion Chloe Kim, who is focusing on Beijing prep.

The event shaped up as a showdown between Spain’s Queralt Castellet and American Maddie Mastro, who has been working on the double cork 1080 — a trick with two off-axis flips that some believe gives her an outside chance to beat Kim in China.

But Mastro couldn’t land either of her double cork attempts Saturday night. She came in nursing an ankle injury from earlier this season. The falls shook her up, and when her last chance came around, she passed. She finished fifth.

Americans Alex Hall and Mac Forehand went one-two in ski big air, boosting their hopes of earning medals at the event’s Olympic debut in Beijing. Hall’s tricks included a 1980 and a 2160. Swiss Andri Ragettli, last year’s X Games champ known for his social media videos, was seventh.

France’s Tess Ledeux earned her second title in as many days, taking the women’s ski slopestyle to add to her big air crown. She landed a switch leftside 1080 Japan, switch rightside bio 900 safety and a left double 1260 Weddle grab.

Both fields lacked China’s Eileen Gu, who could sweep the three freeski golds at the Olympics, including ski halfpipe, too.

X Games finishes Sunday with men’s ski slopestyle and ski halfpipe.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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