Curtain falls on the Aspen Winter X Games for 2014

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times

That’s a wrap.

The 2014 Winter X Games in Aspen, drenched in brilliant sunshine for four consecutive days, concluded Sunday night with the final rounds of competition.

Planning already is underway for the 2015 Aspen Winter X Games at Buttermilk after ESPN and Aspen Skiing Co. officials announced last week that the Winter X Games will return to Aspen for five more years.

The final gold medal of the 2014 X Games in Aspen was won in dramatic fashion by Danny Davis in the featured men’s snowboard superpipe Sunday night.

Davis, sporting a stylish mustache and long hair, leaped into the lead among the eight finalists on his second pass through the superpipe.

He posted a 95.00 to secure the final gold of 2014.

Louie Vito, the double-duty snowboarder who also served as an ESPN commentator, finished with the silver from his 93.00 score.

The bronze medal went to Greg Bretz, a 23-year-old U.S. Olympian from Mammoth Lakes, Calif. He posted an 89.33 on his first run to win bronze.

“I can’t believe it, really,” said Davis, who looks like he came right off the roster of the 1970s Oakland A’s.

“I’m going to ride this switch method … as long as I can,” he said of his selection of tricks.

Davis, originally from Michigan, trains in the West now.

The medal was Davis’ first after years of competing in Aspen.

“It’s bittersweet because Shaun (White) is not here. … hH’s the man to beat,” Davis said. “But hey, I’ll take it.”

Davis is the first rider other than White to win gold in the superpipe in the past seven years. White, who opted not to compete in the 2014 X Games in Aspen, had won six superpipe golds in a row.

Davis, White and Bretz will lead the U.S. pipe snowboarders into Sochi, Russia, in two weeks for the Winter Olympics.

Snowmobile snocross

When it comes to snowmobile racing, Tucker Hibbert is the man.

No doubt.

Hibbert, a 29-year-old from Pelican Rapids, Minn., won the snowmobile snocross Sunday evening on an Arctic Cat snowmobile — his seventh consecutive win in the event in the Winter X Games. That’s a record.

He raised both arms in triumph as he crossed the finish line ahead of runner-up Kody Kamm, from Kenosha, Wis., in the finals of the race.

It total, Hibbert has won eight golds, three silvers and one bronze at Winter X.

Amazingly, he’s been competing on a snowmobile since he was 14 years old.

He races pro motocross during the summer.

Kamm won the silver medal. Justin Broberg, of North Prairie, Wis., won the bronze.

Men’s slopestyle

The skiing Hoosier struck X Games gold in Aspen on Sunday afternoon when he won the men’s ski slopestyle event with a pressure-packed final run.

Nick Goepper, from Lawrenceburg, Ind., fell on his first pass through the course.

He rebounded into second place on the second run with score of 91.66.

But on his third pass, Geopper uncorked a triple flip that led to the winning 95.00 score.

McRae Williams, of Park City, Utah, won the silver with 92.66.

Bronze went to Andreas Hatveit, of Norway. He posted a first run of 90.33 that held up for an X Games medal.

Goepper and Hatveit will be competing in the Sochi Olympics next month. Williams just missed a spot on the U.S. men’s slopestyle team.

“It was finals day. I had to bring out all the ammunition,” Goepper said of his triple, the first one he’s done since May of last year.

“I was super-scared to do it,” he said.

But he shelved the fear, did the triple and won the gold — his second consecutive Winter X Games gold in men’s ski slopestyle. He’s the first skier to take back-to-back X Games gold in the event since Tanner Hall in 2004.

“This entire season I wanted to do well at X games to get ready for Russia,” said Goepper, the only competitor to go without poles Sunday. A previous hand injury forced him to go without the poles. But that helped with his grabs, he said, because he didn’t have to hold poles as well.

“The course was really, really sick this year,” said 27-year-old Hatveit. Hatveit said he is retiring after the Olympics to devote time to his wife and young son.

The veteran won his sixth Winter X medal in his ninth Winter X Games.

“A podium here made my season,” the exuberant Hatveit said. “I can’t believe I made the podium with these guys.”

He said his decision to retire was simple.

“I know it’s more important to be a father and a husband,” he said.

Women’s slopestyle

Kaya Turski, of Canada, won a Winter X Games gold in women’s ski slopestyle and advanced modern medicine at the same time.

Turski, who underwent a radical reconstructive knee surgery just five months ago to repair a torn ACL, used a second-run score of 91.33 to win gold Sunday afternoon. It was the 25-year-old’s fourth Winter X gold.

Fifteen-year-old Maggie Voisin, of Whitefish, Mont., won the silver (90.00).

Kim Lamarre, from eastern Canada, won the bronze (85.00).

Turski’s experimental surgery in August involved a synthetic ligament wrapped inside a cadaver tendon to replace her shredded ACL.

The procedure, along with extensive physical therapy, enabled Turski to win gold in Aspen.

And she will able to compete in the Sochi Winter Olympics in two weeks.

“It’s definitely been a wild ride the last five months,” Turski said. “I think I felt every emotion possible.”

She said overall her knee feels very stable after the Winter X Games in Aspen.

“But my knee will appreciate a few days off (before the Olympics), she said.

Voisin, 10 years younger than the gold medalist, said she grew up watching the Winter X Games from Aspen on television.

“Coming out here has been a one of kind (experience),” Voisin said. “It’s such an honor to be on the podium here.”

Voisin, who just turned 15, also will compete for the United States at the Sochi Olympics. And she doesn’t even have a driver’s license yet.

All three agree that the Buttermilk slopestyle course was a welcome challenge.

“You’ll never get a better course than the X Games course,” Lamarre said.

Ski big air

Henrik Harlaut, a 22-year-old from Sweden, repeated as the Winter X Games gold medalist in the ski big air competition, held late Saturday night at Buttermilk.

Harlaut edged Canadian Vincent Gagnier, who won silver.

The bronze medal went to Kai Mahler, an 18-year-old from Switzerland.

Harlaut finished fourth in the slopestyle event Sunday.