Rising stars upstage Shaun White in X Games halfpipe in Aspen
The Aspen Times
The rising stars of snowboarding crashed Shaun White’s party Thursday night at the Winter X Games.
White, the snowboarding legend who was won more X Games gold medals than any other athlete, made a much-heralded return to the superpipe at Buttermilk this year before a large and lively crowd.
The 28-year-old skateboarder-turned-snowboarder rode the crowd’s momentum into a possible medal position — third place — with only one snowboarder left to compete.
But in a scenario that White had followed numerous times in winning 15 gold medals in Aspen, Danny Davis came from behind to win his second consecutive Winter X Games gold in the Men’s Snowboard Superpipe.
In the process, Davis knocked White off the podium, relegating the snowboarding superstar to fourth place.
“This is very unexpected,” Davis said in the finish area Thursday night. “I had a lot of fun in there tonight.”
Then, as is his custom, Davis thanked the crowd that turned out to push the best boarders in the world to new limits.
“I want to thank everybody who came out,” said Davis, who is 2-for-2 in Men’s Snowboard Superpipe in Aspen. His final-run score was 93.66 — golden.
Nineteen-year-old Taku Hiraoka of Japan won silver. He posted a dynamic 92.33 on his third and last run in the event finals.
He took over the lead and gave Japan a chance to win its first Winter X gold medal.
But Davis denied the high-flying Hiraoka, who launched more than 19 feet out of the halfpipe, in the quest for gold.
Olympic gold medalist Iouri Podladtchikov finished third with his high score of 89.00 from his first run.
The snowboarder known as “I-Pod” pushed on his final run. But a late bobble left him in third place.
White, who struggled on his first run in Thursday’s finals, bounced back in the second run with a crowd-pleasing 82.00. After missing last year’s X Games to train for the Winter Olympics, White returned to Aspen this year, but his third run failed to produce a higher score.
“It was a really good contest,” Davis said. “When you end up on top in a contest like that, you feel like you’ve accomplished something.”
Davis, who has risen to the top with his trademark switch (riding backward) tricks, said he changed his routine on each of his five runs Thursday.
“You improvise; you snowboard,” he said. “I’m happy today was my day.”
Podladtchikov said the quality of the competition made for great snowboarding in the halfpipe Thursday.
“It was such a high level (of competition),” he said. “Danny’s combos, … he was changing his run every single run. You don’t see that very often.”
A record Thursday crowd of 16,300, according to ESPN, turned out at Buttermilk in great part to watch the legendary White.
Snowmobile Speed and Style
Colten Moore, of Krum, Texas, won his second Winter X Games gold medal Thursday night, this time in Snowmobile Speed and Style.
Moore, who won gold in Aspen last year, powered through the Winter X bracket on his Polaris machine, defeating Joe Parsons in the finals.
Moore, as he did last year, dedicated the victory to his brother Caleb, who died after a snowmobile accident in the 2013 Winter X Games in Aspen.
“I can’t explain how awesome this is,” Moore said. “I was a little nervous. These guys are the legends of the sport.”
Moore defeated another legend, Levi LaVallee, in the semifinals after knocking off Willie Elam in the first round.
Parsons, who collected his 14th Winter X medal, defeated Cory Davis in the semifinals. He topped Brett Turcotte in the first round.
Moore will compete again today at Winter X in the Snowmobile Long Jump.Eliminations
Also Thursday, elimination rounds determined the qualifiers for the Men’s Ski Slopestyle finals, scheduled for Saturday morning.
Tom Wallisch, of Pittsburgh, posted the highest qualifying score of 89.66 to lead the final field of eight riders.
Joss Christensen, of Park City, Utah, was second among the qualifiers with an 88.00.
Alex Bellemare, of Quebec, Canada, was third in qualifying.
Breckenridge rider Bobby Brown advanced to the finals after posting the fourth-best qualifying run.
The finals field includes Olympian Gus Kenworthy of Telluride, who was eighth in qualifying.
Defending Winter X Games gold medalist Nick Goepper, of Indiana, finished ninth in the elimination round. Only the top eight advance to Saturday’s finals.
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