X Games Day 3 Notes: Snow bike events take to Buttermilk Mountain
A noted motocross athlete and Summer X Games veteran, Rob Adelberg earned his first X gold medal in the unlikeliest of places: Aspen. The Australian won the 2018 snow bike best trick competition last winter at Buttermilk, only a handful of weeks after he rode a snow bike for the first time.
It was fellow Aussie Jackson Strong, a four-time Summer X gold medalist, who convinced Adelberg to give the snow bike a go. Strong is largely credited with getting the snow bike — which is your typical motocross bike modified for the snow — to X Games Aspen in 2017.
“He asked me if I wanted to try and I’m pretty confident and said, ‘Yeah, I’d love to,’ and I ended up coming and taking the gold,” Adelberg said recently. “They are definitely hard to do tricks on compared to a motocross bike, but once you learn how to ride them on the snow it’s very interesting and it makes it a lot of fun.”
Snow bike best trick, which starts at 8 p.m. Sunday, will be the final event of X Games Aspen 2019. Adelberg is back to defend his gold, while Strong is back to defend his silver and Robert Haslam his bronze. Also competing is snowmobile superstar Brett Turcotte.
“It’s the first one I need to defend. But I feel I’m more prepared this year than I was last year,” Adelberg said of his gold. “My trick is definitely better. It’s just about sticking it. You can come as prepared as you want, but if you don’t land on the track then it doesn’t matter.”
Adelberg has won a second X Games gold since his Aspen win, taking the X Games Sydney 2018 title in motocross best trick.
MATECHUK REPEATS IN SNOWBIKE
An upstart teen from western New York settled between a couple of veteran Canadian snow bike riders Saturday during the third running of the bikecross.
Jesse Kirchmeyer, 18, who races motocross and snowmobiles, had the lead most of the race before Canadian Cody Matechuk passed with three laps to go to repeat as the X Games champ.
Matechuk, who won bronze in the event’s 2017 debut, moved into second after countryman Brock Hoyer slid out with eight laps left. Five laps later, Matechuk over took Kirchmeyer, who had the lead from the start when he got the hole shot.
By the time Matechuk crossed the finish line, he had a nearly 4.5-second advantage on Kirchmeyer and nearly 6 seconds on Hoyer, who won the 2017 event and was second last year.
SCHULTZ STAYS BUSY ALL WEEK
This has been a busy week for Mike Schultz.
First, he participated in the Special Olympics unified snowboarding event Thursday, where he and his teammate Chris Perdue took home bronze.
After that, the Paralympic athlete switched gears and rode to victory Saturday in the adaptive snow bikecross final, getting his 10th X Games medal, and his ninth gold.
Adaptive snow bikecross is one of three new disciplines that were added to this year’s X Games lineup.
The gold medal was essentially Schultz’s right out of the gate as none of the other eight competitors came close to challenging him. Tyler Brandenburger collected the silver and Kevin Royston rounded out the podium in third.
Also new this year, the para snow bikecross finals followed the adaptive finals.
Para snow bikecross is similar to adaptive except the athletes are paralyzed and have modifications to their bikes allowing them to ride.
Doug Henry collected gold, finishing almost 19 seconds ahead of silver medalist Will Posey. Leighton Lillie finished one lap behind in third.
‘KNUCKLE HUCK’ WELL-RECEIVED
With an inaugural event, many times fans aren’t sure what to expect. Saturday night’s new knuckle huck, where snowboarders were launching off the knuckle and landing area at the big air jump, fit in that vein.
But fans quickly warmed up to the idea as they were treated to a number of jumps and seemingly slow-motion flips never seen before in competition. Each drew gasps and cheers.
The informal event crowned a winner, Norway’s Fridtjof “Fridge” Tischendorf, who rode with a backpack, but Aspen-trained Jake Canter, 15, was a crowd favorite. Canter, who is on the U.S. Snowboard Team’s rookie squad, threw a backside 1080 that wowed the chilly crowd.
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Emergency crews remain on the scene of a helicopter crash that happened Saturday morning on the south end of Rifle, sending the two occupants to the hospital and touching off a small brush fire.