Josey in search of first Aspen podium in talented snowboard superpipe contest
Snowboard legend Shaun White is scheduled to make his X Games return in Sunday night’s competition
Chase Josey doesn’t quite know what to expect from Sunday’s men’s snowboard superpipe contest at X Games Aspen. Outside of some incredible riding, that is.
“Every year it seems like the level gets higher and higher,” Josey said Friday, “so I’m just feeling like I have to push myself mentally and physically more and more each year and it’s going to take excellence to get on the podium for anybody and it’s not going to be an easy challenge.”
The 25-year-old snowboarder from Idaho is one of eight athletes scheduled to compete in Sunday’s signature event at Buttermilk Ski Area. Josey has been as consistent as they come at X Games, although that’s not exactly an easy pill to swallow. He only has one career X Games podium, when he won bronze in Oslo 2016. He’s finished exactly one off the podium each of the past four years in Aspen, with another fourth-place finish in last year’s one-off “superpipe session” contest also on the list.
His competition this year? Well, it’s elite. There is Australia’s Scotty James, a three-time X Games Aspen champion who has won the past two years. The only person to have beaten James in recent seasons is Japan’s Yuto Totsuka, who won Aspen silver last year behind James. After that, the start list as of Saturday night includes Colorado’s Chase Blackwell and Taylor Gold, Japan’s Ruka Hirano and Switzerland’s Jan Scherrer. Fan favorite Danny Davis was a late scratch from the contest.
And yes, the eighth projected starter Sunday is in fact legend Shaun White, who is set to take his first X Games run since 2017, when he finished 11th. White, who has 18 career Winter X Games medals, hasn’t competed in any snowboard contest since winning the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. White hasn’t medaled in Aspen since 2013, when he last won.
“It always seems that X Games is the heaviest field,” Josey said. “It’s going to be a pretty wild night, I think. I’m just trying to worry about what I can do and focus on my runs and try to land some cool tricks. It’s been some interesting practice days. I feel like I haven’t quite yet gotten into my bigger tricks yet.”
The halfpipe snowboarders only have one competition under their belt this season because of the coronavirus pandemic, that being last week’s World Cup in Laax, Switzerland. Totsuka outdueled James for the win, while Hirano was a distant third. Josey struggled in the semifinals and finished 16th.
However, Josey did say he’s added some new tricks to his arsenal for this season and feels he can contend Sunday should he be able to string some 1260s together, which have become mandatory for making an X Games Aspen podium anymore.
“With Copper not happening, it was probably the least amount of pipe riding I’ve done in December. So to get over into Switzerland in January was kind of a blessing,” Josey said, referring to December’s canceled Copper Mountain Grand Prix, which usually kick off the snowboard halfpipe season. “At the beginning of the year it was kind of up in the air as to what was going to happen and there was a chance it could have all gotten canceled. So we are just stoked X Games was able to get it together and pull it off, because it’s probably going to be one of the few events that is able to happen this year.”
Sunday’s men’s snowboard superpipe final is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and will be televised live on ESPN. Because of the pandemic, no spectators are allowed on-site at Buttermilk.
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