Colbert: Owning up to my X Games Aspen predictions; good, bad and ugly |

Colbert: Owning up to my X Games Aspen predictions; good, bad and ugly

Last week, before X Games Aspen got underway, I wrote a story for the Aspen Times Weekly predicting who would win each of the 12 major ski and snowboard contests. I’m not saying that’s as difficult as picking the entirety of the NCAA basketball tournament correctly, but going 12 for 12 would have taken a lot of dumb luck.

Looking back on my choices, I still think I did reasonably well. I mean, the people I picked correctly were fairly obvious choices, like Scotty James, but a win is a win. In the end, I was 5 for 12, and want to break down each selection and where I may have gone right or wrong.

Men’s Snowboard Superpipe

Projected winner: Scotty James

Actual winner: Scotty James

Had I picked against Scotty, someone should have taken my credentials away. He’s now won 10 straight halfpipe contests dating back to the 2018-19 season. As long as Shaun White or Ayumu Hirano, the last two riders to beat him, don’t show up, I think Scotty will continue to be a safe pick going forward. Yuto Totsuka, who took silver, is nipping at his heels, however.

Women’s Snowboard Big Air

Projected winner: Zoi Sadowski-Synnott

Actual winner: Miyabi Onitsuka

New Zealand’s Sadowski-Synnott was a breakthrough star as an X Games rookie in 2019, and she’s not going anywhere. Although, me picking her to reign supreme again this year was probably asking a lot. She still took fourth behind three Japanese women, led by Onitsuka. Did I know much about Onitsuka before this week? Honestly, no. She’s been a star on the World Cup in slopestyle for a while, but this was her X Games debut.

Women’s Ski Big Air

Projected winner: Kelly Sildaru

Actual winner: Tess Ledeux

My boldest prediction was probably thinking Sildaru, the Estonian teen superstar, would win three gold medals. She did win two, but big air was her downfall. She finished fourth, while France’s Ledeux won her second X Games gold, the other coming last year in Norway.

Men’s Ski Big Air

Projected winner: Henrik Harlaut

Actual winner: Henrik Harlaut

The smartest thing to do is to not pick against a legend in his own event. Harlaut’s win gave him his seventh X Games gold medal — six are in big air — and made him the most decorated X Games skier of all time, surpassing Tanner Hall’s medal count in the process. Picking against Harlaut here would have been nearly as stupid as picking against James in the superpipe.

Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle

Projected winner: Anna Gasser

Actual winner: Jamie Anderson

This might be my worst defeat of the week. I’m a big Anna Gasser fan, but who picks against Jamie Anderson in a slopestyle event? That’s just not smart. My apologies to Jamie. Her win gave her 17 career Winter X Games medals, second most behind only Shaun White and Mark McMorris, who won his 18th medal this year at Buttermilk.

Men’s Ski Slopestyle

Projected winner: Alex Beaulieu-Marchand

Actual winner: Colby Stevenson

I’m still a believer that ABM will win this at some point. But Stevenson, an X Games rookie from Utah, had too much good karma not to win. He had a VIP parking pass for the Buttermilk lot, but gave it to his mother and instead he and Evan McEachran, who won silver, took the bus in from Snowmass. The ski gods decided this contest before it even started. Kudos to you, Colby. By the way, Stevenson also won the inaugural ski knuckle huck contest. Not a bad X Games debut.

Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle

Projected winner: Mark McMorris

Actual winner: Darcy Sharpe

Hard to believe Mark McMorris, who has won this event multiple times, finished eighth. Still, I have no regrets having picked the snowboarding god to win. Props to Canada’s Darcy Sharpe, though, for winning his first X Games gold. He did it rather dramatically, as well, going from last to first on his final run in the new jam session format.

Women’s Ski Superpipe

Projected winner: Kelly Sildaru

Actual winner: Kelly Sildaru

This was only Sildaru’s second time competing in the X Games Aspen superpipe, and her first win, so I’m proud of making this pick. She had to hold off Rachael Karker and reigning champion Cassie Sharpe for that gold medal. She’s probably going to win many more gold medals in the halfpipe over the coming years, which is saying something as it’s not her best event.

Men’s Snowboard Big Air

Projected winner: Chris Corning

Actual winner: Max Parrot

I don’t want to say Chris Corning, who once trained with the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club, is cursed here at X Games Aspen. But I’m pretty sure he’s cursed. The Silverthorne rider has won everything under the sun in big air, but he just has some bad mojo here at Buttermilk. This was his third time competing at X Games, and it wasn’t pretty as he didn’t even make big air finals. But I’m psyched for Max Parrot, who missed last year because he had cancer. Great comeback story.

Women’s Snowboard Superpipe

Projected winner: Maddie Mastro

Actual winner: Queralt Castellet

This one hurts. I pretty much guaranteed Maddie Mastro would win, and I’m sure most people probably agreed. Unfortunately, she went all in on her double crippler and I think that got into her head. She finished dead last in the finals in what might have been the most disappointing result of any athlete at X Games last week. She’s young and will be back toward the top soon enough. It was great to see Castellet win, though. Her first X Games came way back in 2010, and this was her first gold. Gives us 30-somethings hope.

Women’s Ski Slopestyle

Projected winner: Kelly Sildaru

Actual winner: Kelly Sildaru

This was another no-brainer. Sildaru had the best three runs in this event last year, including a 99, and therefore should have won all three medals in my opinion. She rolled to another gold this year, her fourth straight in slopestyle (she missed 2018 because of injury). Only 17, Sildaru already has five X Games gold medals and nine medals total. There was a lot of talk this week about McMorris and maybe Anderson beating Shaun White’s all-time Winter X Games medal record of 18, but it would only be temporary. Sildaru might pass all of them by the time her career is over, which won’t be for a while.

Men’s Ski Superpipe

Projected winner: Alex Ferreira

Actual winner: Alex Ferreira

Yes, I picked Alex Ferreira to win. Although, with Aaron Blunck coming in second, I pretty much nailed this one as I led my ATW story saying Blunck was my choice before swapping to Ferreira at the end. Alex was always my choice, by the way. You think I was going to pick against the hometown hero? That’s absurd. Hopefully you watched this contest, as it was epic, with both Blunck and Ferreira throwing down 1440s on their final runs. Ferreira edged Blunck on the final run of the weekend to repeat as X Games champion.

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