Winter X Games

Getty Images

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

Leave a comment

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.

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

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.

Iouri Podladtchikov stretchered off after X Games crash

Iouri Podladtchikov
Getty Images
Leave a comment

ASPEN, Colo. (AP) — Olympic champion snowboarder Iouri Podladtchikov slammed his face against the halfpipe and had to be carted off the course Sunday at the Winter X Games in an accident that provided a jarring look at the stakes involved in landing a gold-medal run.

Video is here.

Podladtchikov was taken to the hospital, where scans for brain and neck injuries came back negative. X Games officials said he suffered a broken nose and was awake and alert late Sunday night.

The 29-year-old rider better known as the I-Pod was at the end of his second run, trying to complete what had been a clean and high-flying trip with a 1260-degree flip.

As he was gliding back into the pipe, he lost his bearings and his legs crumpled, then his face smacked against the lower part of the halfpipe wall and he slid, motionless, to the bottom.

Medical personnel took about 20 minutes to stabilize Podladtchikov’s neck and strap him into a sled to be taken to the hospital.

“It was terrible. You don’t really know how he’s doing,” said eighth-place finisher Jake Pates, who was the next rider to go after the injury. “He wasn’t moving, there was a crowd of people around him. You can’t help but feel for him. Definitely gets your stomach turned, gets you in a weird head space.”

Immediately, thoughts of Kevin Pearce, who suffered a traumatic brain injury during a practice in 2009, and of halfpipe skier Sarah Burke, who died in a practice in 2012, came to mind.

This accident wasn’t as severe, but the fact it happened in a nationally televised contest — the biggest this side of the Olympics — brought the dangers of the halfpipe to the fore, only two weeks before the Olympics.

“It’s part of it, for sure,” said American Ben Ferguson, who will be in PyeongChang. “People take digs, and you just have to be smart about it. You know you take a risk and you just do what you’ve got to do.”

Indeed, not even the scare of the injury could stop the riders from raising the stakes in the last contest before most of them head to South Korea for the Olympics.

Less than 30 minutes after silence enveloped the previously raucous halfpipe, Japan’s Ayumu Hirano, the 2014 Olympic silver medalist, nailed one of the most daunting runs ever seen — landing back-to-back 1440-degree spins en route to a winning score of 99.

It was I-Pod who landed the first 1440 — the Yolo Flip — in a contest.

That was five years ago with the Sochi Olympics approaching. Podladtchikov’s feat sent two-time Olympic champion Shaun White to work trying to duplicate it. By the end of 2014, they were the only two riders to land it in a competition.

At Sunday’s contest alone, and with White back home in California watching the event, there were three who could — Podladtchikov, Hirano and 17-year-old Toby Miller, who landed it twice on his way to a fifth-place finish.

Those who weren’t gunning for that trick were upping the stakes in other ways.

Australia’s Scotty James, who will contend for the gold in Korea along with White and Hirano, twice completed runs that included three versions of double-cork 1260, including the switch backside 12, in which he rides backward into the wall of the pipe before taking off for two full rotations.

He finished second with a score of 98.

“It kind of speaks for itself,” James said of his trick. “That’s why no one spins switch backside in the halfpipe.”

James said he’ll keep trying his trick. Hirano and White will push on with their 1440s. And if Sunday’s contest was any indication, the halfpipe contest in PyeongChang could be an all-timer.

But one that could go on without the defending champion, Podladtchikov.

“It almost felt like I was the one getting hurt, as well,” Hirano said through a translator. “It did put a little fear in me.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Shaun White pulls out of X Games to rest for Olympics

[twitter-follow screen_name=’nbcolympictalk’ show_count=’yes’ text_color=’00ccff’]