White in perfect spot for five-peat
Summit Daily staff writer
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – The Winter X Games 11 crowd got its first glimpse of Shaun White in competition Friday, and White showed every last screaming teenager that little has changed since the last time he was here.
The 20-year-old snowboard whiz from Southern California played a game with the judges during the men’s slopestyle elimination round, ramping up his maneuvers on the rails during his second run to see if that was why two riders had scored higher than he did in his first turn.
He was right; rails made a big difference in the scores, as his number shot up to 92.33 points and made him the No. 1 qualifier in what could be a prelude to the first five-peat in Winter X history.
“I wanted to test out a little theory I had going,” White explained with his typically candid grin. “I was guessing everybody’s runs were better than mine because they got more technical on the rails, so I tried to get more tech on the rails and it definitely bumped my score up. So now I know that for tomorrow. It was all about testing the judges.”
Michigan rider Danny Davis, who has made a name for himself as a pipe specialist but looked as good as anyone on the slopestyle course Friday, qualified No. 2 (90.00) after White bumped him from the top spot on the day’s final run.
“I’m not chasing anybody,” Davis said in reference to the four-time defending champ. “I’m just snowboarding, you know, and doing the tricks I want to do. I don’t gotta worry about other people.
“I got something saved for tomorrow, a little better,” he added. “So do these guys.”
In whittling down the field from 20 to 10, an unusually large crowd to watch a qualifying event got to see Travis Rice – the last rider to win this event before White’s streak began – pull his patented double backflip. They were also reminded that the talent within snowboarding – an American sport – is beginning to even out across the globe.
Five of the 10 riders who advanced to the final were from Europe, with four countries represented among those five.
Still recovering from a twisted knee that kept him off his snowboard for a month and a half, Breckenridge resident Chad Otterstrom did not make the cut, finishing 18th with a 64.33-point score. Otterstrom took it noticably easy, electing to land an easier assortment of tricks rather than push for gnarly maneuvers. Friday was only his fourth day on snow since the December injury.
“I was taking it mellow,” said the 30-year-old park specialist, who is competing in his sixth Winter X Games. “I wanna have the rest of the season. I tried kinda hard in the first run, but then I fell so … I got over it. Everybody’s riding so good it’s hard to keep up.”
The dance team traveled this past weekend to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida, for the high school national championships, winning the intermediate varsity pom division on Sunday.