Mother Nature, Ladley win men’s superpipe
January 30, 2016
Mother Nature won the men's snowboard superpipe Saturday night at the Winter X Games in Aspen.
Actually, Matt Ladley of Steamboat Springs won the gold medal in a bizarre and historic snowstorm that drastically shortened the event, which was called after the first of three runs because of heavy, wet snow.
"I did not expect this," said the 24-year-old from Steamboat Springs, who won his first Winter X Games medal in his fourth year of competition.
"I've never gotten a medal at X Games. … To take gold is a dream come true," said Ladley, who wore an orange Peyton Manning Broncos' jersey for his first gold medal.
"Go, Broncos," Ladley said, adding that the circumstances were unusual but he's still "stoked" to take home his first Winter X Games medallion.
In one of the most youthful fields in the history of X Games superpipe, Ladley executed a stunning opening run with huge amplitude out of the pipe.
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The snow was just beginning to fall as the first run was underway.
Judges rewarded his high-energy pass with an 82.33 score.
Little did he know at the time that 82.33 would be the gold-medal score in 2016.
Ben Ferguson of Bend, Oregon, won the one-run silver medal Saturday night, his first Winter X medal. His single-run score was 79.
Australian Scotty James also won his first Winter X Games medal, taking the bronze.
The surprises of the opening (and only) run Saturday night left the pre-event favorites out of the medals.
Two-time defending superpipe champion Danny Davis, who suffered a sprained ankle in training Friday, struggled on his run with a score of 40.33, clearly limited physically.
Iouri Podladtchikov of Zurich, Switzerland, the Olympic gold medalist in the event, also struggled in his run, stumbling on his opening trick.
Both highly regarded Japanese superpipe riders — Ayuma Hirano and Taku Hiraoka — also had difficult in their opening run and posted low scores.
With one run in the books, the snowboarders prepped for their second run as the snow continued to fall — wet, heavy snow.
Gabe Ferguson, Ben Ferguson's brother, started the second run and immediately discovered that he could not generate enough speed to get out of the snowy halfpipe.
James then attempted his second run. He, likewise, could not even launch out of the pipe to attempt a trick.
And the snowfall intensified.
Event officials announced a hold on the event, sending slipping crews down the halfpipe.
After consulting for 15 minutes as the snowfall increased, officials announced the event was called after one run.
Ladley was declared the winner in a weather-shortened event, a first in recent history of the Winter X Games in Aspen.
"We knew the weather was rolling in," Ladley said. "I really wanted to put that first run down."
And as they awaited a possible second run, Ladley said the snow "really started to come down. It was like Styrofoam up there."
Ben Ferguson said he wasn't concerned about the weather.
"I went in with a plan. … I'm super-stoked," he said, adding that the riders were hopeful the competition could continued.
But Mother Nature said no.