X Games Day 4 notes: 1997’s 3-time medalist happy for Sildaru’s feat
January 27, 2019
Jennie Waara is busy with a career as a personal trainer in Sweden, but the former X Games triple-medal winner said over the weekend she's glad to have Kelly Sildaru in her club.
Sildaru, the 16-year-old freeskier from Estonia, became the first woman in 22 years to win three medals in one X Games weekend. The only other was a then-22-year-old Waara. At the inaugural X Games in 1997, the Swedish snowboarder took home gold in boardercross, silver in halfpipe and bronze in slopestyle at Big Bear Lake in California.
"That was an amazing year for me," Waara said in an email Sunday. "I am very grateful for what snowboarding has given me and also for the X Games that gave many sports the chance to be seen as the amazing and entertaining sports they are."
Sildaru won silver Thursday night in the superpipe, and then Friday won gold in the slopestyle in the morning and bronze in the big air that night. Sildaru said she knew another woman had won three medals but didn't know anything about Waara.
Waara said she hasn't been watching the X Games and didn't know about Sildaru's success. Waara remains grateful for event's continued success and what it has meant for action sports.
"I've always felt that the X Games family did it for the love of the sport and I'm extra supportive of all the women in sports," Waara wrote. "I wish Kelly all the luck and I hope she comes home with three medals in her bag!"
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The hill climb returned Sunday after making its debut at the 2018 X Games, but with a slight change.
OK, maybe not a slight change. A 40 degree increase in the pitch was added as the event moved venues. Last year, the hill climb went up the center of the superpipe; this year, organizers moved the event to the big air course, carving two lanes into the landing area and up the hill.
The gold-medal match was between the riders with the fastest qualifying times: Logan Mead, who finished sixth last year, and Travis Whitlock, the 2018 X Games gold medalist.
Mead, the No. 1 qualifier, had a great start, which allowed him to dominate the race, unseating the reigning gold medalist. Whitlock had to settle for silver after he crashed three-quarters of the way up the hill.
After having to compete against his brother in an earlier heat, last year's bronze medalist Austin Cardwell was back in the bronze medal match, this year against Jake Anstett.
Much like Whitlock, Cardwell lost control of his bike, getting thrown off in the same spot, allowing Anstett, who finished in seventh last year, to get the bronze.