Big Air icon Henrik Harlaut wins first slopestyle gold at X Games
MEN’S SKI SLOPE FINALS
1. Henrik Harlaut, SWE 93
2. Oystein Braaten, NOR 92.33
3. Andri Ragettli, SUI 92
4. James Woods, GBR 91.33
5. Alex Beaulieu-Marchand, CAN 91
6. Gus Kenworthy, USA 90
7. Nick Goepper, USA 86.33
8. Oscar Wester, SWE 84.66
Henrik Harlaut is a Big Air legend. What people forget is the eccentric Swedish skier finished sixth in slopestyle at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and has a 2013 X Games silver medal in slopestyle.
However, all five of his X Games gold medals before Sunday came in ski Big Air, including his win Saturday, and he still felt he needed to prove himself in slopestyle.
“Since I only had gold in Big Air, there has been a lot of media, especially in Sweden, that is like, ‘Oh, Henrik is only a Big Air skier and is having trouble with slopestyle,’” Harlaut said. “That just gave me extra motivation and spark to show them wrong, in a way.”
Harlaut did so in a big way Sunday, when he won his first X Games Aspen gold in slopestyle to pull the rare weekend sweep. His best-run score of 93 topped Norway’s Oystein Braaten, last year’s slopestyle gold medalist, and Switzerland’s Andri Ragettli.
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Ragettli admitted how nervous he was in the final moments of the three-run competition as he tried to hold on for his first X Games medal in five appearances. He looked good for silver until Braaten’s 92.33 on his final run jumped him into second and gave the bronze to Ragettli, who scored 92 on his third run only minutes earlier.
“A lot of pressure. I fell in the first one, which was, like, annoying. Then I managed to land the second one,” Braaten said. “A couple of mistakes, but I cleaned up in the last one. I’m really happy.”
Of the eight competitors Sunday, six finished with scores in the 90s, including fourth-place finisher James Woods of Great Britain, who was knocked off the podium with Braaten’s final run. Taking fifth was Canada’s Alex Beaulieu-Marchand; sixth, Telluride’s Gus Kenworthy, who was the top qualifier and owns an Olympic silver; seventh, U.S. Olympic bronze medalist Nick Goepper and eighth was Sweden’s Oscar Wester.
Utah’s Joss Christensen, the 2014 Olympic gold medalist, did not qualify for finals. He’s missed most of the season because of injury.
Harlaut’s winning run came on his first try and it even left the Swede impressed with himself.
“My first run was the best slopestyle run I ever did. To open up with that was overwhelming in a way,” Harlaut said. “That was the greatest feeling ever, because that’s the run I had planned to do. To get it right off the gate, it doesn’t happen.”
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Wayne Hall took a job as an air traffic controller at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport in 2003 thinking he would stay for a short time. Instead he stayed for nearly 17 years and was promoted up to the position of air traffic manager. He reflected on the experience upon retirement.