France’s Ledeux wins slopestyle skiing title for her second gold in two days
Tess Ledeux is flying high ahead of the Winter Olympics after a dominating two days at X Games Aspen. The French skier followed her historic big air gold on Friday with a slopestyle gold on Saturday and finds herself as one of the favorites in both events entering the Beijing Games.
“Amazing,” Ledeux said after taking the women’s slopestyle skiing title on Saturday morning at Buttermilk Ski Area. “I’m just speechless right now. It’s incredible. It’s just amazing. I’m so happy and it’s a dream come true. My first medal, gold medal, in slopestyle. It’s just a dream.”
The win was, in fact, Ledeux’s first slopestyle gold at X Games. The 20-year-old from the French Alps had won three previous big air gold medals — including Friday’s win — but her previous best in X Games slopestyle had been silver in 2017.
She’s been on a tear as of late, having won a low-key slopestyle World Cup in Font Romeu, France, only days before coming to Aspen. She finished second to China’s Eileen Gu at the big air World Cup in Steamboat Springs in December and won a big air World Cup back in October in Chur, Switzerland. She was the slopestyle world champion in 2017 and the big air world champion in 2019. At March’s world championships in Aspen, she was fourth in slopestyle and seventh in big air.
But her two X Games gold medals in two days certainly brings her up to another level with the Olympics knocking on the door.
“I think I was more relaxed today because I won yesterday,” Ledeux said. “I just would like to take some pleasure and ski with a smile.”
Ledeux’s big air gold on Friday came via a double cork 1620, the first landed in women’s big air skiing, scoring 49 out of a possible 50 points. Her slopestyle run on Saturday wasn’t quite as breathtaking, but it was enough to hold off her competition, which was missing a couple of key names.
Last year’s champion, Eileen Gu of China, sat out X Games this year. And Estonia’s Kelly Sildaru, who had never lost an X Games Aspen slopestyle contest in four previous events, withdrew after falling on the rail section of her first run on Saturday. Sildaru won the women’s halfpipe skiing contest on Friday night over California’s Brita Sigourney and Basalt’s Hanna Faulhaber.
Still, Ledeux had to hold off Switzerland’s Mathilde Gremaud, a big air icon who now has seven X Games medals after Saturday’s silver, and Canada’s Megan Oldham, the bronze medalist who now has won four X Games Aspen medals the past two years. Oldham won big air silver on Friday after also winning big air silver and slopestyle bronze last year.
Rounding out Saturday’s slopestyle contest were Norway’s Johanne Killi (fourth), Great Britain’s Kirsty Muir (fifth), Montana’s Maggie Voisin (seventh) and Sildaru in eighth. Swiss skiers Giulia Tanno and Sarah Hoefflin were both late scratches from the contest, Muir was the alternate.
Next up, the skiers will head to the Beijing Games, which begin Feb. 4. This will be a second Olympic appearance for Ledeux — who is a cousin to French halfpipe skier Kevin Rolland, a three-time X Games champion — having taken 15th in the 2018 slopestyle contest in Pyeongchang, won by Hoefflin. New this year is the addition of ski big air, which will make its Olympic debut next month.
“I’m so excited. It’s just amazing. We have two chances and it’s just perfect,” Ledeux said of having two events to compete in at the Beijing Games. “I’m more confident right now, just after I won two gold medals. And it’s the last event before we leave for the Olympics, so it’s the best way to start the Olympic Games.”
Mother Nature — and some unfortunate training injuries — completely changed the vibe around the women’s halfpipe skiing final on Saturday at X Games Aspen.