Canadian X Games rookie Brandon Cormier takes gold in snowmobile freestyle
Continuing a run of rookies mining gold on their first trip to X Games Aspen, Canadian snowmobiler Brandon Cormier pulled off a trick his veteran training partner couldn’t Friday night and found his way to the top of the podium.
Cormier, who was born the year the games began, has been training with seven-time X Games medalist Brett Turcotte. The 2018 freestyle champ finished sixth Friday after getting out ahead of the sled on the fourth jump of both his runs and bailing as he attempted a new trick. He, like all those who crashed Friday, was able to walk away.
As for most X Games rookies, getting to Aspen is a dream come to fruition. For the 24-year-old Cormier, it was a snowmobile journey that started when he was 3 and a sled career that started to really take flight before he was a teenager.
“I look up to all of these guys and I grew up watching the X Games,” Cormier said after being mobbed by his fellow riders when he was announced as the gold medalist. “Never in the world would I think that this would happen.”
Cormier secured the gold after an 88-point ride on his second of the two-run event. On the last hit of his second run, Cormier was able to land a new trick, which propelled him into first. The trick is one that he had been working on with Turcotte and is a heart-attack style body varial in which he has a one-hand release, rolls in mid-air and then landed on the side of his sled, almost facing backward.
Defending champion Daniel Bodin, the last rider of the night, crashing on his third hit in the 75-second run. The 35-year-old Swede, whose rookie trip to Aspen was 2007, won silver Friday, his second in X Games to go with his five golds.
Idaho’s Willie Elam, whose first X Games comp was the 2006 snowcross, won his second bronze in Aspen. Fellow Idaho rider and X Games stalwart Heath Frisby, who has 11 medals and first came to Aspen for the 2004 hillcross and won bronze in the 2007 freestyle, crashed out on his first run Friday and didn’t return.
Cormier was the first rider of the night, and on his first jump of his first X Games, he went a little deep in the landing but pulled it out despite breaking part of his sled.
“It was pretty crazy and I was trying to stay calm,” he said of the debut run.
On opening night Thursday, Park City freeskier Colby Stevenson, 22, won the new ski knuckle huck event, then less than two hours later snowboarder Miyabi Onitsuka, 21, won the women’s big air.
Going into Friday’s event, snowmobile freestyle had a spotlight on the veterans, and in particular Joe Parsons, who is chasing Shaun White’s 18-X Games medals record. But Parsons crashed in practice and couldn’t run in the finals.
Parsons, who’s competed in Aspen every year since 2008, has five golds, seven silvers and five bronze in the 24 winter events he’s started. He won freestyle gold in 2016 and ’17 but now has missed the podium the past three years.
At one point, Parsons was competing in three events during the Aspen swing. In 2013, he won silver in freestyle and in best trick and bronze in speed and style. This year, only freestyle is on the Aspen lineup.
Parsons’ departure meant an opening for a third rookie in the field, Canadian Dave England, a 28-year-old miner who trains in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. The alternative who found out he was competing just hours before the start finished fifth after two clean runs. The other rookie, Rasmus Johansson of Sweden, was fourth.