Basalt’s Matt Walker wins ski slopestyle
ASPEN Little more than 2 weeks ago, and under an entirely different set of circumstances, Basalt freeskier Matt Walker stood in the very same starting gate. As he prepared to drop in for his first-ever Winter X Games slopestyle run Jan. 27 at Buttermilk, the enormity of the spectacle struck the 19-year-old.”It was different, and I went first, which is never good,” Walker said Sunday. “I was like ‘Wow, I’m going skiing, but 20 cameras are watching me.'” Television cameras were nowhere to be seen Sunday. Competitors and spectators, not lenses, were surveying Walker’s every move. With good reason. Walker laid down a near-flawless final run in the Aspen/Snowmass Open’s skiing slopestyle final, besting a field of 10 with a score of 87.5 to win gold – his first ever in a professional competition. Tom Walish (85.83) and Alexis Godbout (84) finished second and third, respectively.On the women’s side, Carbondale’s Meg Olenick finished third and picked up $300.”I’ve gotten some good finishes and some top 10s, but never anything like this,” said Walker, who took fifth in slopestyle at the recent U.S. Freeskiing Open at Copper Mountain, three spots ahead of fellow Roaring Fork Valley skier Peter Olenick. “This is definitely a big win, especially because it’s in my hometown.”In 2006, Walker was injured during practice and could not compete. One week prior to last year’s Open, the back tip of one of his skis was caught in a rail at Keystone, and he sustained a broken leg. Sunday, Walker confronted adversity of a different sort: He was third in his qualifying heat after a mediocre run. “I knew I needed to grab more,” said Walker, a member of the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club. “Coming into the finals, I wanted to hit all the rails all the way to the end and tweak all my grabs.”He pulled it off. Walker landed a 270 onto the course’s first rail and followed that with a backside 630 off the up-rail, or cannon rail as it became known at Winter X. After three consecutive 900s, Walker attempted a switch 1080 (three full rotations) off the final kicker.
Much to the delight of the home crowd, he stomped it cleanly. “I went big on that switch 1080,” Walker said. “I’m glad I kept it together. … I had five or six more days [on this course] than anyone else, and that helped.”… I knew I did well, but I thought I would finish second to [Walish].”As judges deliberated before announcing the final scores at the awards ceremony, it was clear the victory would come down to two. In the end, however, Walish’s two 1080s were not enough to upstage Walker. Walish settled for second and $2,500, while Walker earned $5,000 for his efforts. His parents joked that rent was about to go up. Walker said the money most likely will go toward a car.As for picking up his first professional win, Walker said that is email@example.comASPEN/SNOWMASS OPEN RESULTSMen’s snowboard superpipe 1.Joe Eddy93.5 2.Drew Brighton91.163.Luke Wynen86.664.Michael Farnum72.335.Cody Tyler Weselis72.336.Nicholas Sibayan61.83 7.Nickey Larson52.838.Sage Kotsenburg52.839.Blaze Kotsenburg46.83 10.Nick Russell37.83
Women’s snowboard superpipe 1.Leslie Glenn72.332.Kyla Sobieralski65.663.Shirley Caron59.334.Michelle Wilson43.165.Molly Cooney42.166.Nirvana Ortanez38.66
Men’s ski slopestyle 1.Matt Walker87.52.Tom Walish85.833.Alexis Godbout844.Sean Decker83.665.Derek Spong81.56.Bobby Brown77.667.Tony Seibert71.668.Joe Schuster71.169.John Strenio64.3310.Henrik Lampert63.16
Women’s ski slopestyle 1.Keri Herman80.52.Anna Segal79.663.Meg Olenick78.164.Ashley Battersby745.Athena Brownson73.56.Claudia Bouvier71.57.Brittani Ballantyne68.668.Ella Spitte629.Stephanie Myers56.510.Becca Babiez52.3311.Brita Sigourney50.6612.Molly Ettes48.1613.Siena Palmacci4814.Ali Agee9.5
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Skico and ESPN officials continue to work behind the scenes to organize 2021 X Games in a pandemic.