Kelly Sildaru wins first women’s ski pipe gold at X Games over Karker, Sharpe
Cassie Sharpe did everything in her power to win Saturday’s superpipe contest. She had no regrets. Her only question is, what else could she have done? No one really has an answer with the new scoring format taking over X Games Aspen this year.
“That’s the thing. The new format is fun. It pushes everyone. You get creativity, you get variation, you get all these things that are amazing with it,” the Canadian star said. “But they don’t have a solid way of saying you need to do this to win. It’s kind of like you’re blind. You just go in blind and you make it up as you go. I think this format is fun. I think we need to have a little bit more structure to it.”
Sharpe, the 27-year-old who won X Games Aspen gold in the superpipe contest last year, settled for bronze Saturday in her return from a three-month hiatus as she recovered from a concussion. The reigning Olympic gold medalist in the halfpipe put down two strong runs to close the 30-minute jam session but still fell short of silver medalist Rachael Karker and gold medalist Kelly Sildaru.
The biggest change to this year’s contest was in the scoring, which is based around an “overall impression” format instead of judging athletes on their best single run. Skiers move up and down the standings during the contest, but there are not any actual scores to compare or contrast runs with.
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“You are totally guessing,” Sharpe said. “You just cruise and try to mix it up a little bit, give them some variation, hit your grabs, get the amplitude and just do everything in your power to do well.”
Karker, the 22-year-old Canadian who won bronze as an X Games rookie a year ago, found joy in the relative free-flowing nature of the competition. She’s come onto the scene quickly following a surprise win at Dew Tour last winter in Breckenridge.
“As always, everyone is going in hoping for gold, but I’m so happy I was able to land on the podium,” Karker said. “I was pretty nervous trying to put together different runs. We don’t normally do that, but it ended up being super fun. I’m pretty happy about it.”
Sildaru, the 17-year-old from Estonia who is taking over women’s freeskiing, won X Games gold in only her second superpipe contest at Buttermilk. She won silver a year ago in her debut, although she now has a total of four X Games gold medals when combined with her three slopestyle golds going back to her first in 2016.
She was fourth in big air Friday and will look to defend her slopestyle gold Sunday. She won three X Games medals in the three events in roughly 24 hours last winter.
“I didn’t expect that today,” Sildaru said. “It’s also pretty tough doing all three disciplines. I just tried to enjoy tonight and that happened. So I’m really stoked.”
China’s Kexin Zhang was fourth Saturday, followed by Britain’s Zoe Atkin, California’s Brita Sigourney, Russia’s Valeriya Demidova and China’s Fenghui Li.
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