White fails to claim first Winter X five-peat
Aspen Times staff writer
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN ” There was no trademark fist pump, no loud shout to his army of fans, no smile when the TV cameras zoomed in.
Shaun White’s four years of slopestyle supremacy at the Winter X Games finally came to an end Saturday when the 20-year-old golden boy lost to a cold-blooded Norwegian known as “The Machine.”
White looked unusually human, dragging his hand on the final trick of his second run ” a cab 1080 ” after an 83.33-point opening run. The miscues locked up the victory for Andreas Wiig, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound cyborg replica with an anvil jaw who shook off a concussion and a bruised heel from a practice-run fall to win his first Winter X gold. Finland’s Jussi Oksanen, one of Wiig’s close friends, finished with the silver, edging White by 1.33 points.
“I don’t like to see people fall, but that felt really good to beat him,” said Wiig, whose pack of friends lifted him on their shoulders when White failed to cleanly land the same trick that caused him problems in his first run. “I was just stoked. I thought he was going to land his whole run because he landed every jump in practice.”
The situation seemed tailor-made for White and his usual heroics. As the No. 1 qualifier from the day before, he was able to watch all nine competitors before dropping in for both of his runs.
Unlike previous years, however, he looked vulnerable on his initial outing through the Buttermilk slopestyle course. He failed to fully rotate on the 1080 at the bottom, and moved into third, behind Oksanen and Wiig. During his four-year streak of golds, White never scored lower than a 93 on his first run.
On his second run, White was flawless on his rail tricks up top (a front-side 270 board slide, then a gap to boardslide) before winding up for a big switch-backside 540. He stuck a backside 1080 over the 55-foot, step-up gap jump, then was smooth on his final rail before setting up for the last-chance kicker.
“I didn’t see him fall once in practice, but you know what, that happens,” Oksanen said of White’s rare stumbles. “That happened to me last
year ” I didn’t fall once in two days, then I fell twice in the qualifications. It happens to the best of us, and that’s just the way it is.”
White was visibly upset at the bottom of the course, and was unavailable for comment afterward.
“I think it’s a good thing that it changes,” said Oksanen, who took bronze in 2001’s slopestyle and silver in 2003. “Andreas has been
on the point for so long and he’s always been getting second and third every contest, so I think he deserves it and he was riding so well.”
Wiig, 25, said he smacked his head so hard during his fall in practice, he blacked out and was seeing double after being taken down the mountain
on a snowmobile. He considered sitting out the final before his girlfriend, Norwegian singer Marion Raven, gave him a pep talk.
“I could barely remember what happened,” said Wiig, who also goes by “Mandreas.” “I went down to the medical center, chilled out for a little
while. [Raven] was like, ‘You can do this, you can do this.’ There were only two runs to go, and I was like, ‘I’ve got to do these two runs, even with a bruised heel.'”
“In Norway we say, ‘Bite your teeth together,'” said Raven, who has an album coming out in the U.S. “It’s like, ‘Go kick Ass.’ That’s what he did.”
Before Wiig, the last rider to beat White at the Winter X slopestyle was Travis Rice in 2003. Rice had the most exciting run of the day Saturday,
landing a double backflip over the gap jump, then unloading a corked double backflip off the last booter. But, just like last year, he was unable to stomp the landing.
Wiig stomped his patented Wiig flip (a backside 900 rodeo flip) over the gap jump on his first run and ended with a front-side 1080 on his final hit to slide into first with a score of 89.66.
Oksanen linked a front-side 720, a front-side 900 and a switch 900 on his first run for 84.66 points, which stood up for silver. Both Wiig and Oksanen scrubbed their second runs after slight mistakes, but White was unable to take advantage.
“I think Shaun was a little bit unlucky there, but Andreas definitely deserved it because he was definitely on point,” Oksanen said. “That guy, he’s so determined. I’ve filmed with him all year, so I just know what he’s like. When he decides to do something, he’s going to make it happen.”
Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Andreas Wiig Oslo, Norway 89.66
2. Jussi Oksanen Kirkkonummi, Finland 84.66
3. Shaun White Carlsbad, Calif. 83.33
4. Antti Autti Rovaniemi, Finland 83.00
5. Mathieu Crepel Anglet, France 80.33
6. Danny Davis Highland, Mich. 77.66
7. Danny Kass Mammoth Lakes, Calif. 77.00
8. Travis Rice Jackson Hole, Wyo. 68.00
9. Hampus Mosesson Froson, Sweden 63.66
10. Chas Guldemond Laconia, N.H. 43.66
A local kid got on the X Games Aspen podium on Sunday night, but it wasn’t the one most people expected. Even Jon Sallinen didn’t think he’d be taking home a medal.