Aspen’s Cassidy Jarrell enjoys first X Games experience despite missing finals
Cassidy Jarrell could have been heartbroken about his first X Games Aspen experience as a competitor. Instead, it was mostly jubilation about finally getting to drop in under the lights Friday night on the sport’s biggest stage.
It wasn’t heartbreak. It was a dream come true.
“It’s almost unexplainable. I literally had no idea what to do. My body did what it did and I was so excited,” Jarrell said of reaching the bottom of the superpipe after his first run. “I’ve never experienced anything like that. I’ve worked my entire life to get here and landing that first run and skiing to the crowd and my friends and family and all the people from this valley, that was something so surreal.”
Jarrell, 20, grew up in Aspen and has been through the Buttermilk superpipe more times than he can count. Last month, he was named an alternate for the men’s ski superpipe contest at X Games Aspen, and Thursday, roughly 24 hours before the elimination round, Jarrell got news he was in the field and would be the first to drop in.
Competing at X Games had long been his greatest dream as a skier. Friday night, with his closest friends in the crowd holding up signs and cheering, Jarrell dropped into the halfpipe for the first time as an X Games athlete.
“I’m so proud of him. He worked super hard all year long and puts his life out there,” said Aspen freeskiing legend Peter Olenick, who coaches Jarrell. “He got to be the one to start off the pipe tonight with everyone fired up and he laid down a super good run and went from there.”
Unfortunately for Jarrell, his X Games debut won’t carry into the weekend. He finished sixth in Friday’s 12-man qualifier, with only the top five moving onto Sunday’s eight-man final. Winter Park’s Birk Irving won the elimination, followed by Crested Butte’s Aaron Blunck and Canadians Noah Bowman and Brendan MacKay. Boulder’s Lyman Currier was fifth, the last to qualify.
“I was definitely bummed. Cass is my boy. He’s a little brother to me,” said Blunck of Jarrell. Blunck also trains under Olenick. “I was definitely pretty bummed that he didn’t make it. But the kid is an up and coming star. He’s going to be on the scene for a long time. So I’m stoked to watch him kill it for the next few years.”
Being a last-second addition to the contest — which was a jam session where each skier got in four runs — Jarrell dropped in before anyone else. And, to the delight of a very pro-Jarrell crowd, he delivered in a big way, putting together a near flawless run that included numerous double corks and a pair of 1260s.
When he got to the bottom, he wasn’t quite sure what to do.
“The fact that was probably one of the best runs I’ve ever done was just insane and to land my first run on my X Games debut was very emotional, to be honest,” Jarrell said. “Just to be able to throw my hands up and celebrate probably one of the best runs I’ve ever done was something spectacular. It doesn’t matter to me where I finished, I’m just excited I got to ski in my first X Games.”
While Jarrell won’t compete in Sunday’s 7 p.m. final, he said he’d be on hand to watch. The five qualifiers from Friday will join last year’s podium finishers in Aspen’s Alex Ferreira (gold), Nevada’s David Wise (silver) and New Zealand’s Nico Porteous. Those three did not have to compete in eliminations.
But make no mistake, Jarrell plans to be back at X Games as an athlete, and those around him have no doubt you’ll see him again.
“You definitely will,” Olenick said. “He’ll be holding medals soon.”
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