White wins record eighth Winter X gold in Aspen
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN ” Lucky number 13.
He raised a few eyebrows Friday when he narrowly nabbed a final qualifying spot, but Shaun White was up to his old tricks in Saturday’s Winter X Games snowboard slopestyle final at Buttermilk in Aspen.
The Carlsbad, Calif., resident dazzled during a second run, in which he landed a 720 over Crossover Canyon ” a 65-foot gap that no other competitor dared to tackle ” and stomped a 1080 off the Money Booter. The run garnered a score of 96 ” tying White’s 2004 record for highest tally in event history ” and vaulted him from eighth after qualifying and fifth after the first run, into first.
After the final seven riders tried and failed to top that mark ” Seabrook, N.H.’s Scotty Lago cam closest with a 94.66 ” the Flying Tomato, who finished third in both 2007 and 2008, traded in bronze for a much more familiar color: A Winter X record eighth gold, his 13th medal overall.
Lago, the 2006 superpipe bronze medalist, settled for silver and Norway’s Mikkel Bang, the field’s tallest (6-foot-2) and youngest (19) competitor, finished third with a 91.33.
“I expect the bets from Shaun at every contest, and I’m sure that in the back of our minds we’re thinking ‘Who’s gonna get second?'” Lago said. “Unless you throw down the best the run of your life.
“I felt like I was pretty close.”
Lago was firmly entrenched in second before tackling the course for a third time. He upped his score with a run that included a rodeo 540 off the Cannon feature, a frontside 1080, backside 900 and then a rare 1260 off the bottom hit. He did concede, however, that White’s willingness to attempt a trick over the canyon set the X Games legend, who picked up his record fifth slopestyle gold, apart.
White, who skipped the news conference to prepare for superpipe qualifying on Saturday evening, was put in the rare position of standing by as the field attempted to knock him out of the top spot. Instead of watching from the finish area, cameras caught White in the starting tent, then freeriding adjacent to the course. He made it down in time to watch as Lago’s score popped up on the video screen.
“Oh God, it was awful,” White said of the wait in a television interview. “I was thinking ‘Oh Scotty, don’t do it to me.'” Lago came up 1.34 points short. Still, the 21-year-old was happy to be back on the Winter X podium after a two-year stretch in which he finished no better than 15th in slopestyle or superpipe here.
“I wanted it a little more,” Lago said. “I think I was more focused on this event.”
Bang’s sole focus was to have fun, he said. That carefree attitude translated into a smooth third run and a medal in just his second Winter X appearance. He finished seventh in slopestyle in 2008.
“When I ride, I don’t think that much about what other guys are doing,” Bang said. “It was sick. Shaun killed it. I was stoked. I had a great time.”
Go to http://www.aspentimes.com/xgames for complete coverage of Winter X Games 13.
1. Shaun White / Carlsbad, Calif. / 96.00
2. Scotty Lago / Seabrook, N.H. / 94.66
3. Mikkel Bang / Oslo, Norway / 91.33
4. Chas Guldemond / Truckee, Calif. / 91.00
5. Peetu Piiroinen / Hyvinkaa, Finland / 90.33
6. Andreas Wiig / Oslo, Norway / 89.00
7. Tim Humphreys / Basking Ridge, N.J. / 88.66
8. Jussi Oksanen / Encinitas, Calif. / 75.00
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