Rice sails to snowboard big air victory | AspenTimes.com

Rice sails to snowboard big air victory

Aspen Times Staff Report
Aspen, CO Colorado
Travis Rice, of Jackson Hole, Wyo., shows his gold metal after winning the Snowboard Big Air competition at the Winter X Games 13 at Buttermilk Ski Area, near Aspen, Colo. on Thursday, Jan., 22, 2009. (AP Photo/Nathan Bilow)
AP | FR37383 AP

ASPEN ” The fans have spoken. Jackson Hole’s Travis Rice won gold in the snowboard big air final Thursday to cap off day one of Winter X Games 13 at Buttermilk in Aspen.

ESPN viewers and the spectators at Buttermilk were the judges for the competition, text messaging their favorite to decide the winner.

Rice ” the lone American in the competition ” received 78 percent of the vote with his backside-double-cork 1080, defeating last year’s gold medalist, Torstein Horgmo.

For Rice, the win was a vindication, as he lost to Horgmo in last year’s contest.

“It was a pleasure to go up against Torstein and win,” Rice said at the post-air press conference. “The kid is the future, but America has got my back.”

There are no other medals besides gold for big air. Rice finished first, followed by Horgmo, with Mikkel Bang and Andreas Wiig tied for third place.

The competition featured four top snowboarders in a head-to-head, bracketed format. In each round, riders took two jumps off a 85-foot step-up gap.

Vermont’s Kevin Pearce, who had been scheduled to compete in the big air contest, sprained his wrist and needed a couple of stitches in his head after a fall in a practice run Thursday. He withdrew from the snowboard big air finals to heal up and concentrate on the superpipe and slopestyle competitions.

Pearce made X Games history a year ago by becoming the first athlete to compete in three events in a single day ” slopestyle (he won silver), big air (advancing to the final bracket) and the superpipe elimination round (he picked up the bronze in the next day’s finals).

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