Riding at the same venue where his brother Caleb suffered fatal injuries one year ago, Colten Moore won the first gold medal in the 2014 Winter X Games in Aspen.
Spurred on by the deafening cheers from the crowd, the 24-year-old Texan topped the field of eight snowmobilers in Thursday night’s snowmobile freestyle at Buttermilk.
Moore posted a top score of 91.33 in the first run to win the X Games gold in front of thousands of fans and more than 60 friends and family from Krum, Texas.
His father, Wade Moore, was in the finish venue, cheering at every trick the crowd favorite executed in his 75-second opening run.
Colten Moore said he stopped thinking about the X Games and decided, “I’m going to go out there and ride for Caleb.”
The support from his hometown Texans helped, he said.
“We’re from Texas. That’s what we do. We support each other,” Colten Moore said almost a year to the day after his brother died after he was injured when his snowmobile landed on him on a missed jump. His death prompted more safety measure in X Games snowmobile events, including mandatory Kevlar upper-body armor.
Colten Moore himself was injured in a snowmobile crash in Aspen last year, suffering a separated pelvis.
But his athletic and obviously inspired performance at Buttermilk on Thursday night signaled his comeback in the sport his family has embraced — even in Texas.
“This is the greatest moment ever. (Caleb) was out here with me all night. I knew he was the one helping me,” Colten Moore said.
The crowd fell silent momentarily during Sam Rogers’ second run when he crashed as he tried to land a jump. Stunned, he was attended to by medical personnel and walked off the course to the thankful applause of the spectators. Rogers, from Bozeman, Mont., rides for Polaris, as does Colten Moore.
Second in the event went to Heath Frisby, of Middleton, Idaho. He recorded an 86.00 on his second run to win an X Games medal.
Finishing third was Jack Rowe, from Wauconda, Ill. He scored 85.33, as scored by the five judges.
For others at Aspen Winter X, Thursday brought moving day for the competitors.
With preliminary qualifying rounds in several events, competitors attempted to move on and move up by advancing to the next round in their respective sports.
In the two-run snowboard men’s superpipe eliminations, Switzerland’s Iouri Padladtchikov rallied in the second run to post the highest score — 88.00. The rider nicknamed “iPod” leads the eight-man field into the Sunday-night finals.
Ben Ferguson, of Bend, Ore., was next with an 80.00.
U.S. Olympian Danny Davis was third in qualifying with a 77.00. Davis, from Michigan, trains in the Lake Tahoe area.
Benji Farrow had the fourth-highest score with a 75.00. He’s from Ludlow, Vt.
Seven different countries were represented in the men’s snowboard superpipe eliminations, including Japan, China, Australia, France, Switzerland, Finland and the United States.
Those top four will be joined by Louie Vito, Scotty James, Yiwei Zhang and U.S. Olympian Greg Bretz in the event finals Sunday night — the last event of Winter X 2014.
Vito is doing double duty as an X Games competitor and X Games television commentator.
Six-time X Games gold medalist in the event Shaun White did not compete this year.
The eliminations at Winter X in Aspen started early this year with the first rounds held late Wednesday night for men’s ski superpipe.
Two Aspen pipe skiers more than survived the elimination rounds in the massive superpipe at Buttermilk.
Aspen’s Alex Ferriera, who just missed a berth on the U.S. Olympic team that will go to Sochi, dazzled in the elimination round, finishing second only to two-time defending men’s superpipe X Games champion David Wise, of Reno, Nev.
Ferriera posted a first-run best score of 91.00, which ended up being good for second in the round.
“I was really happy with my run. … I can’t believe it,” Ferriera said in an interview with The Aspen Times.
“This is my last big event of the year. … I’m going to give it all I’ve got,” he said of the men’s ski superpipe finals, scheduled for 8:30 p.m. today.
Wise posted a top score of 94.00 in his second run to lead the qualifiers to the men’s ski superpipe finals.
Aspen’s newest Olympian, teenager Torin Yater-Wallace, also qualified for today’s men’s superpipe finals.
Yater-Wallace, just coming back from a serious rib injury and in his first competition in nearly two months, secured the final, eighth qualifying spot for today’s finals. He scored an 86.33 in his second run to advance.
Also moving on are Lyman Currier, Thomas Krief, Justin Dorey, Gus Kenworthy and Kevin Rolland.
“It’s awesome to compete in Aspen,” Ferriera said. “I can sleep in my own bed, and all my friends can come out and watch.”
Other elimination rounds were held Thursday in snowboarder X (men’s and women’s).
In men’s snowboard slopestyle, the finalists are Torstei Horgmo, Mark McMorris, Stale Sandbech, Chas Guldemond, Max Parrt, Sebastian Toutant and Aleksander Oestreng.
The men’s snowboard slopestyle finals will be at noon Saturday.
In women’s snowboarder X, four riders advanced to the finals, led by Carle Brenneman.
Also advancing are Zoe Gillings, Simona Meiler and Deborah Anthonioz.
The women’s snowboarder X finals (and the men’s finals) will be at 10:30 a.m. today.
In men’s snowboarder X, the finalists were determined Thursday.
Max Schairer was the top qualifier, with Konstantin Schad next.
Snowboard veteran Nate Holland was next in line.
Others to advance are Chris Robanske, Kevin Hill, Mick Dierdorff, Alex Tuttle, David Speiser, Jonathan Cheever, Bobby Minghini, Lucas Eguibar, Anton Lindfors and Jayson Hale.
Another Aspen Winter X athlete will hit the stage today.
Matt Walker, 25, will compete in the men’s ski slopestyle elimination round at 12:30 p.m. today. The finals will be Sunday.