Aspen ski club alum Segal wins women’s ski slopestyle debut
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN ” The girl from Down Under finished on top in Saturday’s snowy, inaugural Winter X Games women’s ski slopestyle.
On a day when course slippers far outnumbered competitors, diminutive 22-year-old Anna Segal stood tall. The Melbourne native overcame steady snow and difficult conditions ” two riders (including three-peat superpipe champion Sarah Burke) were carted off the hill after falls ” to post a first-run score of 85. The Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club alum held off a late push from Winter X veteran Grete Eliassen to capture gold.
Eliassen (79) settled for silver and Montreal’s Kaya Turski (76.33) rounded out the podium.
“It’s definitely too bad we had these weather conditions,” said Segal, draped in an Australian flag as she addressed reporters. “We were pumped to show everyone what we had and how far we’ve progressed. No one got to do the tricks they wanted to do and what they can do.
“[Sarah’s fall] really put a bittersweet tone on the event.”
Burke, who urged X Games organizers to add women’s ski slopestyle as an event, appeared to be in line to vault to the top of the leaderboard after completing a flawless rail section, a stylish 360 off the first jump and and a 720 off the second. But when she launched off the final jump ” the “Money Booter” ” she came up a few feet short of the landing area on an attempted 900, drilled the flat and went down hard.
Crowds watched quietly for nearly 30 minutes as medical personnel attended to Burke, then carted her off in a sled. Initial reports say she sustained an injury to her lower back.
Earlier in the competition, Quebec’s Kim Lamarre was also taken off the mountain in a sled after veering too far left off a jump and crashing in a patch of deep snow. She sprained her knee, according to initial reports.
“I was watching it on the screen, and you could tell from the look of it that she didn’t have enough speed,” Segal said. “[Conditions] were pretty hard to deal with, especially going in knowing you might not clear [jumps]. It was really hit or miss, and something you have no control over.”
Eliassen was the first skier to follow Burke.
“Luckily, I wasn’t able to see what happened,” the Norwegian said. “She’s one of my best friends, so I was really scared about what was going on. I just wanted to get down safe.”
Conditions were so adverse that competitors met beforehand and voted on whether to compete on the entire course or an abbreviated version that included the rails and one to two jumps.
Five of the eight opted to hold a normal competition. Segal was not one of them.
“I guess it ended up working in my favor,” she joked.
Segal’s winning run started with a straight slide on the first rail, a shifty on the step-up box and a 360 with a mute grab off the first jump, then her trademark “Lincoln Loop,” an inverted spin. She landed another 360 on the jump to the right of the channel gap and finished with a stylish 540.
Her score was 15 points better than her nearest competitor ” Turski ” in the first round.
In an event that will be remembered as much for its crashes as its stylish airs, Turski pulled off the acrobatic feat of the day. She hit the knuckle on the final jump of her second run, landed backward and had one ski pop off. Somehow, she managed to stay upright and ski to a stop in the finish area, much to the delight of onlookers who immediately turned to watch the replay on the video screen.
“I came around and saw the knuckle, and I crossed my fingers in the air,” she said with a chuckle. “Somehow, I skied down switch on one ski.”
Eliassen dropped Tursky into third after a solid second run that included two switch maneuvers on the opening rail and a clean 720.
But the two-time superpipe gold medalist’s score was not enough to top Segal, the former Aspen resident and one-time roommate of AVSC freestyle coach Elana Chase.
“I do know a lot of people here, and it was good to see them in the crowd,” Segal said. “I’m sure they’re all super happy for me.”
Go to http://www.aspentimes.com/xgames for complete coverage of Winter X Games 13.
1. Anna Segal / Melbourne, Australia / 85.00
2. Grete Eliassen / Salt Lake City, Utah / 79.00
3. Kaya Turski / Montreal, QB, Canada / 70.00
4. Keri Herman / Breckenridge, Colo. / 63.33
5. Megan Olenick / Aspen, Colo. / 61.33
6. Kristi Leskinen / Uniontown, Pa. / 50.00
7. Sarah Burke / Whistler, BC, Canada / 42.00
8. Kim Lamarre / Lac-Beauport, QB, Canada / 19.00
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