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

Mark McMorris
Getty Images
0 Comments

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.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Shaun White makes Olympic snowboarding team as oldest U.S. halfpipe rider ever

Laax Open 2022
Getty Images
0 Comments

Shaun White was named to his fifth and likely final Olympic team, as expected, and will become the oldest U.S. halfpipe rider in Winter Games history.

The full snowboard roster was announced Friday.

White, a three-time gold medalist, leads a men’s halfpipe team of underdogs for medals in China. White made one podium in five contests since returning from a three-year break last year. Riders from Japan and Australia are the favorites.

White, 35, will break the retired Kelly Clark‘s record as the oldest U.S. Olympic halfpipe rider. He is also older than any previous male halfpipe rider from any nation in Olympic history, according to Olympedia.org.

The rest of the men’s halfpipe team: 2014 Olympian Taylor Gold, 2018 Olympian Chase Josey and first-timer Lucas Foster.

MORE: U.S. athletes qualified for 2022 Winter Olympics

Defending Olympic champion Chloe Kim and fellow medal threat Maddie Mastro previously qualified in women’s halfpipe. Coaches announced two more riders Friday — first-time Olympians Zoe Kalapos and Tessa Maud.

The snowboard cross team includes the oldest athlete on the entire U.S. Olympic team — 40-year-old Nick Baumgartner — and now-five-time Olympian Lindsey Jacobellis. Both previously qualified, as did Hagen Kearney and Faye Gulini. The new additions announced Friday: 2019 World champion Mick Dierdorff, 2014 Olympic bronze medalist Alex Deibold, Stacy Gaskill and Meghan Tierney.

The U.S. earned two spots in parallel giant slalom, both men, and filled them with Cody Winters and Robby Burns.

In slopestyle, defending gold medalists Jamie Anderson and Red Gerard previously qualified. As did returning Olympians Hailey Langland and Chris Corning and first-time Olympian Dusty Henricksen.

The final riders were Julia Marino, Courtney Rummel and Sean FitzSimons, who won a competition in Switzerland last week and beat out Brock Crouch for the last spot. That’s notable given Crouch survived life-altering injuries after being buried for several minutes in an avalanche four years ago.

In freestyle skiing, the last Olympic roster spots were also announced Friday:

Aerials: Eric Loughran, Ashley Caldwell, Kaila Kuhn
Halfpipe: Birk Irving, Devin Logan, Carly Margulies
Moguls: Kai Owens, Cole McDonald, Nick Page, Dylan Walczyk, Bradley Wilson
Ski Cross: Tyler Wallasch
Slopestyle/Big Air: Nick Goepper, Caroline Claire, Marin Hamill, Darian Stevens

Many Olympic medal contenders previously qualified, including two-time Olympic halfpipe champion David Wise.

A notable is Margulies, who last competed in an International Ski Federation event in December 2019 and was cleared to return to skiing last week, one month after surgery for a torn medial meniscus in her left knee. Margulies has had at least six knee surgeries, according to U.S. Ski and Snowboard.

“I was told by doctors that the tear was so significant that surgery was a non negotiable and i was looking at a 6 to 9 month recovery,” was posted on her social media last month. “i was basically told my olympic dreams were crushed and in that moment i decided i could never go through something like this again therefore my competitive career was over.

“Fast forward to a few days later, i received good news that there was a chance this meniscus would not be repairable resulting in a snip of the damaged area and only a 4 to 6 week recovery!”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Chloe Kim, Jamie Anderson, Red Gerard lead snowboarders qualified for U.S. Olympic team

Getty Images
0 Comments

Chloe KimJamie Anderson and Red Gerard are set to go for repeat Olympic gold in Beijing.

Shaun White hasn’t qualified yet.

The first U.S. snowboarders met Olympic selection criteria via world rankings updated Monday. U.S. Ski and Snowboard rules state that the top two riders per gender in halfpipe and slopestyle in this week’s world rankings will be nominated to the team, should they also rank in the world top six.

The full U.S. snowboard team will be announced next month and must be confirmed by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee. When all is said and done, up to four riders per gender per event can be named to the team.

Kim and fellow halfpipe rider Maddie Mastro qualified as they are ranked Nos. 2 and 5 in the world. Kim is ranked below China’s Cai Xuetong, but make no mistake the American is favored to become the first woman to repeat as Olympic halfpipe champion.

Kim beat a field including Cai at Dew Tour on Sunday, running her win streak to five contests since returning from a 19-month break between riding a snowboard in 2020. Mastro, like Kim going to her second Olympics, crashed hard in the Dew Tour final after qualifying in first place.

Mastro is the last person to beat Kim in competition at the March 2019 Burton U.S. Open.

No U.S. men’s halfpipe riders are ranked in the top six in the world.

White, who finished fourth, seventh and eighth in his three starts this year after a three-year break between competitions, moved up to No. 13 in the world and third among Americans after Taylor Gold (No. 8) and Chase Josey (No. 12). He would be ranked a little higher if not for a lack of competing.

White will qualify for his fifth Olympic team if he finishes first or second at the last Olympic qualifier in Mammoth Mountain, California, in early January. It’s possible that he qualifies if he finishes third at Mammoth. If White doesn’t qualify via Mammoth podium finish, he is expected to be chosen for the team in January via coaches’ discretionary pick(s).

Anderson, who won both Olympic women’s slopestyle titles in 2014 and 2018, was bumped from No. 1 in the world to No. 2 by New Zealand’s Zoi Sadowski-Synnott, who won Dew Tour. No woman has won three Olympic snowboarding gold medals.

Gerard, who in PyeongChang became the youngest Olympic snowboarding gold medalist in history at 17, is ranked second in men’s slopestyle behind Norwegian Marcus Kleveland. On Saturday, Gerard won Dew Tour on the contest’s last run, beating a field that included Kleveland.

Dusty Henricksen grabbed the second available U.S. men’s slopestyle spot as he’s ranked third in the world, just above Chris Corning. Henricksen, an 18-year-old who won X Games Aspen last season, is going to his first Olympics.

All U.S. snowboarders who qualify via slopestyle can also compete in big air at the Olympics.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!