X Games Aspen preview: Men’s and women’s skiing | AspenTimes.com

X Games Aspen preview: Men’s and women’s skiing

U.S. halfpipe skier David Wise all smiles at the top of the Aspen X Games superpipe during practice runs Wednesday night at Buttermilk.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times |

MEN’S SKI SUPERPIPE

This is your chance to see the local boys in action before they head to the Winter Olympics next month. Aspen’s Alex Ferreira and Torin Yater-Wallace are back competing under the lights at Buttermilk, as are Olympic teammates David Wise and Aaron Blunck. Wise is the reigning Olympic gold medalist while Blunck is the reigning X Games Aspen gold medalist. Ferreira, who will be a first-time Olympian, has a pair of bronze medals in Aspen, coming in 2014 and 2015, but hasn’t seen the podium since. He was fourth in 2016 and was a late drop in 2017 because of a bum ankle. 2014 Olympian Yater-Wallace has a pair of silvers at X Games Aspen (2011, 2013), but hasn’t seen the Aspen podium since. He has won two golds, one at X Games Tignes (2013) and again at X Games Oslo (2016). Keep an eye on three-time X Games Aspen gold medalist Kevin Rolland of France and Avon’s Taylor Seaton, who hasn’t medaled at X Games but did just miss a spot on the Olympic team.

Format: No qualifying, 10-skier final, best score of three runs

Finals: 8 p.m. Thursday

MEN’S SKI SLOPESTYLE

Norway’s Oystein Braaten swept through both X Games events in 2017, winning gold in Aspen and his hometown event in Oslo. Let’s call him the favorite for 2018. The American Olympic contingent should be strong as well with Nick Goepper, Alex Hall, Gus Kenworthy and McRae Williams also competing. Williams took silver in 2017 in Aspen while Kenworthy won silver in 2016. Joss Christensen, who led an American podium sweep at the 2014 Sochi Games, is expected to compete this week. He missed most of the Olympic qualifiers this season because of injury and won’t compete in Korea, making X Games his season highlight.

Format: 16 skiers compete in the 2-run qualifying with top 5 making finals; the three podium finishers from 2017 all automatically make finals, with the eight-man finals being a best of three-run format.

Qualifier: 1 p.m. Friday; Finals: 12:45 p.m. Sunday

MEN’S SKI BIG AIR

This is one of the few places you can find a big air competition in skiing, as it’s not gone mainstream like big air snowboarding. Great Britain’s James Woods is back to defend his gold from 2017, while 2016 gold medalist Fabian Boesch of Switzerland hopes to reclaim the top spot. Denver’s Bobby Brown, a three-time X Games gold medalist (twice in big air, once in slopestyle) and 2014 Olympian, is expected to compete. Injuries kept him out most of the slopestyle Olympic qualifiers, keeping him from a trip to Korea, but could find some redemption in Aspen this week, if he’s healthy.

Format: No qualifying; a 25-minute jam session with eight finalists, combined best two scores wins.

Finals: 7 p.m. Saturday

WOMEN’S SKI SUPERPIPE

One name matters above all others here: Maddie Bowman. The superstar from Tahoe has four X Games gold medals, wining each event from 2013 to 2016. Her streak ended in 2017 when she finished third behind France’s Marie Martinod and Japan’s Ayana Onozuka. Those same three also swept the 2014 Olympic podium in Sochi, with Bowman winning gold, Martinod silver and Onozuka bronze. Bowman will return to the Olympics next month alongside U.S. teammates Annalisa Drew, Devin Logan and Brita Sigourney, all of whom are competing at X Games this week.

Format: No qualifying, 8-skier final, best score of three runs.

Finals: 5:30 p.m. Thursday

WOMEN’S SKI SLOPESTYLE

The biggest name is the one not here. Estonia teen phenom Kelly Sildaru, who is still only 15, will miss both X Games Aspen and the 2018 Winter Olympics as she recovers from a left knee injury sustained in training earlier in the fall. She won X Games Aspen gold in slopestyle in 2016 and 2017. When she won in 2016 at age 13, she became the youngest Winter X Games champion in any event. With Sildaru out, the favorites have to be France’s Tess Ledeux, last year’s silver medalist in Aspen, and Norway’s Johanne Killi, who won gold at X Games Olso in 2017. Americans Devin Logan — a rare two discipline Olympian who will compete in slopestyle and halfpipe in Korea — and Maggie Voisin should factor into the podium mix. Logan, the reigning Olympic silver medalist, and Voisin will join Caroline Claire and Darian Stevens on the women’s Olympic slopestyle team. Claire and Stevens weren’t on the X Games Aspen invite list for 2018.

Format: No qualifying, 8-skier final, best score of three runs.

Finals: 11 a.m. Saturday

WOMEN’S SKI BIG AIR

Germany’s Lisa Zimmermann won big air gold at Aspen in 2017, but it doesn’t look like she’ll be around to defend her title. Estonia’s Kelly Sildaru won silver a year ago, but is out with injury. This leaves Switzerland’s Giulia Tanno as the only returning podium finisher from a year ago competing this week. American Devin Logan — the Swiss army knife of female skiers — will compete, as will Maggie Voisin.

Format: No qualifying; a 25-minute jam session with eight finalists, combined best two scores wins.

Finals: noon Sunday

acolbert@aspentimes.com


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