Sven Thorgren

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Japan’s 17-year-old Takeru Otsuka gets X Games Big Air gold

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17-year-old Takeru Otsuka of Japan came out victorious under the lights at the X Games Friday night in Aspen, taking home gold in Snowboard Big Air.

Otsuka was ready for his Aspen debut, after winning the event at last year’s X Games Norway. After sketching out on his first attempt, Otsuka landed a frontside triple cork 1800 tail grab, earning hime 43.00 points from the judges. His final attempt was a squeaky clean cab triple 1620 with a locked in indy grab, which thrust Otsuka into the lead with 88.00 total points.

Canada’s Mark McMorris, who has had to make repeated comebacks from injuries over the past two years, finished with silver behind Otsuka, with Sweden’s Sven Thorgren getting bronze.  

According to the Aspen Times, McMorris was just a little over a month removed from having surgery to remove pins from his leg, and riding in the X Games Big Air event on Friday was only the fifth time he had been on the white stuff since being relieved of the pins.

McMorris suffered multiple injuries after a frightening brush with death back in 2017 when he slammed into a tree while snowboarding in the backcountry. His list of injuries included fractures to his jaw, arm, pelvis, ribs, a ruptured spleen and collapsed left lung. McMorris was able to heal and compete at the 2018 PeyongChang Olympics where he won his second Olympic bronze medal in Slopestyle.

Canada’s 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Big Air gold medalist Sebastien Toutant finished off the podium in Aspen in fourth. The U.S.’ 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Big Air silver medalist Kyle Mack and bronze medalist Billy Morgan of Great Britain did not compete in Aspen.

Otsuka has also had success this season on the World Cup, posting wins in both Big Air and Slopestyle.