Scotty James

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U.S. snowboarders shut out of X Games Aspen halfpipe medals for first time

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The first two Winter X Games events came and went without an American medalist, a historic opening to the 24th annual event in Aspen, Colo., on Thursday.

Australian Scotty James won the men’s halfpipe for a third time, extending his winning streak to 10 contests since the start of the 2018-19 season.

James, the Olympic bronze medalist, landed a switch backside double 1260, cab 1080, frontside 900 grabbing nose and a double backside 1260 (video here). He was followed by Yuto Totsuka of Japan and Jan Scherrer of Switzerland. Scores were not posted on the broadcast. Rather, a new, 30-minute jam session format had judges ranking riders fluidly.

Though the U.S. had five in the eight-man final, none made the halfpipe podium for the first time at an Aspen X Games. The event has been held there since 2002.

Records before that are hard to find, but it’s possible it’s the first time in X Games history (since 1997) anywhere in the United States that an American man did not make a halfpipe podium.

Shaun White, an eight-time X Games halfpipe champion, last won in 2013 and announced after PyeongChang that he was taking a break from snowboarding.

White announced a bid last summer to make the first Olympic skateboarding team, but it’s unknown if he’s still pursuing that after finishing 13th at the world championships in September, trailing the Americans favored to make the team. More of his social media posts in recent weeks have been snowboarding related.

Later Thursday, Japanese swept the women’s big air podium: Miyabi Onitsuka, Kokomo Murase and Reira Iwabuchi. Olympic champions Jamie Anderson of the U.S. and Anna Gasser of Austria finished seventh and eighth in the eight-woman field, each falling on most of their runs.

Gasser, who in November 2018 became the first woman to land a triple cork, tried four triple underflips and fell each time.

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MORE: Chloe Kim to take year off from snowboarding contests

Australia’s Scotty James wins men’s SuperPipe at X Games

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Australian Scotty James, the Olympic halfpipe bronze medalist last year in PyeongChang, continued to show his aptitude of amplitude in Aspen at the 2019 X Games.

In his second of three attempts in the SuperPipe, James opened with a switch backside 1080, followed by a backside 1260, a trick he was unable to complete in his first run, falling on reentry. James finished his gold-medal-winning run with a massive frontside double cork 1260 coupled with a stalefish grab.

“I came in tonight and everyone is riding so well and I didn’t expect anything,” James said from the winner’s circle. “To come out with a victory lap at the end is just a dream come true.”

The 2019 gold medal is James’ fourth SuperPipe medal at X Games. He won silver in 2018, gold in 2017 and bronze in 2016.

Japan’s Yuto Totsuka won his first X Games medal in SuperPipe, taking the silver, and the U.S.’ Danny Davis won the bronze. It was Davis’ third-career medal at X Games. He previously won back-to-back SuperPipe gold medals in 2014 and 2015.

Earlier in the day in Aspen the U.S.’ Alex Hall walked away with his first X Games gold medal in men’s ski slopestyle. Hall made his Olympic debut with Team USA at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, but finished well off the podium in South Korea in 16th. Canada’s Alex Beaulieu-Marchand, the 2018 Olympic slopestyle bronze medalist, took home the X Games silver in Aspen behind Hall, while Norway’s Ferdinand Dahl got the X Games bronze.

Chloe Kim dominates first halfpipe contest of season after clinic visit

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Chloe Kim for athlete of the year? She padded the argument Saturday, winning her first contest in nine months in trademark dominant fashion, days after treatment at a medical clinic.

Kim, who in PyeongChang became the youngest Olympic female snowboard champion at age 17, had the field’s highest scores in the first two runs (90 and 92.25 points) at Copper Mountain, Colo. She still led after everyone else’s third run, allowing her a victory lap as the last rider to go in her season opener.

Fellow U.S. Olympian Maddie Mastro moved up to second place with her 85-point final run. China’s Cai Xuetong took third at an event that lacked triple Olympic medalist Kelly Clark, who has not announced whether she will compete again.

Kim, who landed a 1080 in each of her runs, said afterward that she visited a medical clinic this week for dehydration.

“I woke up, and I was like blinded because I was so dehydrated. So yeah, drink water,” she joked. “I get super dehydrated up here. I need humidifiers. I’m like filling my bathtub with water and trying to get my room as nice as possible and make it easier to breathe.”

In February 2016, Kim became the first woman to land back-to-back 1080s in a contest. She then landed the first back-to-back 1080s in an Olympics in PyeongChang.

“I was going to go to school this year, but decided to just compete another year, and then go to school next year, then get back into the Olympic flow,” Kim said on NBC Sports.

Last season, Kim became the first halfpipe rider to sweep the Olympics, X Games and U.S. Open in one winter. She hasn’t finished lower than second in a contest since February 2017, when she placed fourth at an Olympic test event in South Korea after spending two days in the ER with “a pretty gnarly cold.”

Kim is capable of more. She landed the first frontside double cork 1080 by a woman in October while training in Switzerland, according to the International Ski Federation.

The double cork 1080 was the must-have trick for the men leading into the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games.

Kim is entered in one more contest before the end of the year, next week’s Dew Tour at Breckenridge, Colo.

Australian Olympic bronze medalist Scotty James won the men’s event Saturday with back-to-back 1260s in his final, 96.75-point run, overtaking American Toby Miller.

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