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The veteran – Chad Otterstrom

Devon O'Neil
Summit Daily News
X Games slopestyle veteran Chad Otterstrom will compete in the superpipe for the first time at this year's games. (Preston Hollywood Utley/Vail Daily)
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Breckenridge resident Chad Otterstrom will compete in his fifth Winter X Games this weekend.

For the first time in his career at the elite level ” which spans almost the same duration as much of his competition has been snowboarding, period ” Otterstrom, 29, has prioritized halfpipe riding over slopestyle riding this year.

He did it in an attempt to make the Olympic team, although that didn’t materialize.

Otterstrom is here at Buttermilk to compete in both events, marking the first time he will have taken part in the vaunted superpipe competition. His chances are better in slopestyle, the discipline he prefers among the two. But it is in the pipe where he will do something he has never done before.

For the past few years, snowboarders like Steve Fisher and Shaun White have made the 1080 the must-do trick if you are intent on winning a contest. “I don’t think you can win anymore if you don’t do one,” Otterstrom said Thursday while training at the Buttermilk pipe.

Yet until this week, Otterstrom withstood the urge to follow his younger peers’ lead. He has done 1080s in practice or during informal runs through his home pipe for six years now, he says, but never in competition. “It’s so much work,” he said.

If all goes as planned and the venue for Sunday’s event proves as fast as in years past (it was slowed significantly for training on Thursday by fresh snow), Otterstrom says he will throw a 1080 for the first time in competition.

“You kind of have to now,” he said. “You can’t even really get top five if you don’t.”

Despite that reasoning, and the fact that he’s finally caving in to the trend, Otterstrom promises he is only in Aspen to enjoy himself.

Asked for his hopes and expectations, he smiled. “Free food, free beer.”

“I’m not out to prove anything,” he said. “I’m just here to have a good time, just ride as good as I can.”

Otterstrom’s best shot at winning ” or landing on the podium for that matter ” remains in slopestyle. He hasn’t hit the park too often this year because he has been so focused on halfpipe, but the slopestyle course reveals his natural talent in the air more purely than the pipe.

To earn a career-best X Games finish place, Otterstrom would have to take third or better.

Devon O’Neil can be contacted at doneil@summitdaily.com.


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