Rookie Dusty Henricksen, 17, takes second gold in Aspen: I’m tripping still
X Games rookie is first American since Shaun White to win men’s snowboard slopestyle
Dusty Henricksen never once looked phased by the atmosphere, as little as there was this year at X Games Aspen because of the pandemic. The 17-year-old from California made the most of his first appearance at Buttermilk by winning a pair of events, including Sunday’s men’s snowboard slopestyle final.
Henricksen is the first American winner of the contest since Shaun White won in 2009.
“It’s been a great week,” he said. “I’m tripping still. It doesn’t really feel real yet. I feel I’m about to wake up soon. I don’t know what to say. I’m pretty speechless, honestly.”
The X Games rookie, who competed Sunday in only a T-shirt, won Friday’s snowboard knuckle huck contest to get things started, and then followed with an impressive showing Sunday in slopestyle, a contest that had originally been scheduled for Saturday but was postponed a day because of weather.
Henricksen once trained under Nichole Mason, a former Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club coach who went onto coach for the U.S. national team but has since moved on. Despite that Aspen connection, Henricksen had little experience riding in Colorado at all outside of some smaller competitions at Copper Mountain.
Henricksen held off Norway’s Mons Roisland and Finland’s Rene Rinnekangas in Sunday’s slopestyle competition. The big story of the event was who wasn’t competing in Canadians Mark McMorris and Max Parrot, two of the best slopestyle and big air athletes of all time. Both had to withdraw after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week.
The 10-man field included reigning Olympic slopestyle champion Red Gerard, a Summit County product who finished sixth Sunday.
Roisland thought he had overtaken Henricksen on the final run of the contest — a sentiment shared by Henricksen to an extent — but the judges still gave the contest to the X Games rookie.
“I was a little nervous, but also super hyped because that was just the most ridiculous run in the world. Just a lot of emotions,” Henricksen said of Roisland’s final run. “I was just trying to stay on my feet and snowboard and have a good time with all these boys.”
The leaderboard after the first run looked far different from the final podium. Norway’s Marcus Kleveland, who later won the night’s big air contest, led early on while Gerard sat in second and fellow American Judd Henkes was third. But early in the second runs, Henricksen delivered to jump into first place, a spot he would hold onto through the final two runs.
Henricksen also competed in Sunday night’s big air contest, finishing seventh out of eight athletes. Roisland was third behind runner-up Sven Thorgren and Kleveland.
“I try not to have any expectations, because you never really know what is going to happen,” Henricksen said. “The run that I fell on was honestly my favorite snowboard lap I’ve taken all season. Just to be able to ride that course and cruise and have fun and do whatever you want is so sick.”
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While U.S. Ski & Snowboard hasn’t officially announced its roster for the upcoming world championships in Aspen, Hanna Faulhaber did confirm she would be one of four American women to compete in halfpipe at the competition.