Thovex upstages youth movement in skier slopestyle
January 28, 2007
ASPEN ” Nine-year Winter X Games veteran Candide Thovex said Sunday that he’s so old that he should consider entering veteran competitions.
The 24-year-old from La Clusaz, France, proved in Sunday’s skiing slopestyle final that he still has a few tricks left is those “aging” legs. The three-time Winter X gold medalist laid down a near-flawless second run that included the competition’s lone cab 630 in the course’s vaunted “stair-i-lizer” rail section to post a 95. He vaulted from ninth to first ” a position Thovex wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the way.
X Games newcomers and teenagers Sammy Carlson and Colby West joined Thovex on the podium.
“I can’t believe this, it feels like a dream,” Thovex said. “I changed completely my run. I crashed on my first run, so I said ‘let’s go.’ I had nothing to lose.
“It all went so well.”
That’s an understatement. Thovex’s run began with a smooth transition off the “scarecase” rail followed by a 360 onto the trapezoid box and a 270 off it. He then landed a 720 and a switch 900 with a mute grab in succession to set himself up for the stair-i-lizer. Thovex nearly carried the entire 27-stair feature in the air as he spun before catching his tails on the bottom of the adjacent rail and landing solidly.
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“I didn’t get to see it, but I imagine it was sick,” Carlson said. “You don’t see that very often.”
For his finale on the course’s 65-foot final kicker, Thovex stomped a switch 1080 with a tail grab. Minutes later, he supplanted Carlson, who led the field following a 92.33 on his first run.
Carlson, the second to last competitor to take the course, completed a solid second run, but was penalized for a slight bobble on the second rail feature. He scored an 89.33 and had to settle for his first run score.
“This is definitely my biggest result,” the 17-year-old high school senior said. “I feel like a million bucks. Candide’s a legend, so it’s not bad to get second. Two years ago, I would’ve never thought this would happen.”
Equally awed was 18-year-old self-taught rider West, who managed to hold onto third place with a 90 despite having veterans like Charles Gagnier and Jon Olsson ride after him. West impressed judges with his switch double nose grab 900, a 450 onto one of the rail features and a switch 1080 off the final kicker ” three tricks he had never before attempted in competition.
“Jon’s a machine, so I thought I was done,” West joked. “I would’ve been happy with fourth, but third is so much better.”
Top qualifier Olsson spun out on the landing of his flat-spin 360 in the middle of the course and lost all speed. He recorded a first-run score of 51.33.
Things did not improve for the eight-time Winter X competitor on his final run, as Olsson sat down on an attempted 900, then under-rotated his switch misty 1080 and fell. He did, however, delight the crowd on the final jump by landing his trademark kangaroo flip ” a double flat-spin in which a rider lands switch. Olsson has four X Games bronze medals and a silver, but gold still eludes him.
The slopestyle gold is Thovex’s first; he took first in 2000 in a big air competition and first in superpipe in 2003.
“I was sure I’d be off the podium. I thought I was too old,” Thovex said. “This is incredible.”
Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Candide Thovex La Clusaz, France 95.00
2. Sammy Carlson Tigard, Oreg. 92.33
3. Colby West Canterbury, N.H. 90.00
4. Simon Dumont Bethel, Maine 87.66
5. Jacob Wester Stockholm, Sweden 86.66
6. John Spriggs Vail, Colo. 73.66
7. Andreas Hatveit Sundalen, Norway 71.66
8. Charles Gagnier Victoriaville, QC, Canada 65.00
9. Jon Olsson Monoca-Ville, Monaco 51.33
10. JF Houle Drummondville, QC, Canada 6.33