Crested Butte’s Blunck wins surprise X Games gold in ski superpipe
Last week, Crested Butte’s Aaron Blunck called Aspen his home away from home. Best friends with local stars Torin Yater-Wallace and Alex Ferreira, he’s spent a lot of time in the area.
Like his friends, Blunck is an X Games Aspen veteran competing in the ski superpipe. Unlike his friends, he’s never found success in competition. In fact, he had never executed a complete run before Friday’s finals at Buttermilk.
“I’ve dreamed of this as a little kid and I cannot be more stoked,” the 20-year-old Blunck said. “To win here is unbelievable. I’m so stoked right now. I cannot actually believe it. It’s always been a dream to me, but to actually do it is unbelievable.”
In a fast pipe that caused everyone trouble, Blunck put together a spectacular second run of 84.66 to win X Games gold, an absolute Cinderella in a competition that included three-time gold medalists Kevin Rolland and David Wise.
Blunck’s previous best finish in Aspen had been seventh place.
“It was icy and it was really fast. With that, everybody was going so big, which makes them get a little bit closer to the deck,” Blunck said. “Second run, I knew what I had to do and I jumped in, and right before I dropped in I kind of got in the zone and I was just feeling so good.”
Blunck wasn’t a factor after the first run. A 71 from Canada’s Noah Bowman was the best anyone could muster in the icy superpipe, France’s Benoit Valentin’s 58 being second best and Yater-Wallace’s 36.66 a surprising third.
But, midway through the second and final round, New Zealand’s Miguel Porteous laid down what was then the best run of the night, his 81 vaulting him into first place. Only a run later, Blunck surpassed him with his 84.66.
“I can’t believe it. I’m still shaking,” the 17-year-old Porteous said. “I’m unbelievably humbled to come back and to come away with the second, I can’t even fathom it. I’m so stoked.”
It was Porteous’ first career X Games podium. Bowman took bronze.
Yater-Wallace, who had two promising runs that each ended with late crashes, finished sixth. Ferreira was a late scratch from the competition.
“Coming into the last few X Games I felt a lot of stress,” Blunck said. “I’m also just skiing and realizing it’s all just for fun. It’s not just about the competition or the money anymore. I ski because I love it, and that’s what has really changed for me.”
Rolland, last year’s gold medalist, took eighth.
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U.S. Ski & Snowboard on Tuesday made the official announcement that World Cup Alpine skiing is returning to Aspen Mountain in March with men’s super-G and downhill racing, part of a revamped schedule by the International Ski Federation for the 2022-23 season.