X Games Aspen 2022 wrap-up: Seeing what predictions turned into reality | AspenTimes.com

X Games Aspen 2022 wrap-up: Seeing what predictions turned into reality

Aspen Times sports editor Austin Colbert looks back on his pre-X Games picks

Norway’s Marcus Kleveland competes in the men’s snowboard slopestyle finals at X Games Aspen on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022, at Buttermilk Ski Area in Aspen.
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

And X Games is gone as quickly as it arrived. The 2022 Aspen edition was as entertaining as ever, with many of the world’s best freeskiers and snowboarders getting to compete one final time this past weekend at Buttermilk Ski Area before heading to the Beijing Olympics.

Before the contest, I made my predictions on who would win each of the 12 main contests — I wisely made no guesses on the unpredictable knuckle huck — so let’s look back on how I did in this X Games Aspen 2022 final send.

Women’s snowboard slopestyle

My pick: Zoi Sadowski-Synnott

Actual winner: Zoi Sadowski-Synnott

Picking against Tahoe’s Jamie Anderson paid off, but barely. New Zealand’s Zoi Sadowski-Synnott was one of the stars of X Games and more than proved she’s capable of ending Anderson’s dominance in slopestyle come the Olympics with her back-to-back 1080 combo. The Kiwi is only 20 and is the future of the sport. But Anderson, 31, still won silver and remains the greatest of all time.

Women’s ski big air

My pick: Mathilde Gremaud

Actual winner: Tess Ledeux

Switzerland’s Mathilde Gremaud pulled out after a hard crash and it was France’s Tess Ledeux who took over. She dominated the contest with a 94 — highlighted by a first-ever 1620 — while Canada’s Megan Oldham won silver with 89. Canada’s Olivia Asselin won bronze with 72, meaning the contest was a bit lacking after the top.

France's Tess Ledeux celebrates on the podium after winning gold in the women's slopestyle skiing final at X Games Aspen on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022, at Buttermilk Ski Area.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Women’s ski superpipe

My pick: Kelly Sildaru

Actual winner: Kelly Sildaru

First off, Basalt’s Hanna Faulhaber crushed her X Games debut and won bronze. She seemed to have silver in the bag until California’s Brita Sigourney swiped it away at the last second. But, to no one’s surprise, Estonia’s Kelly Sildaru won gold behind her highly technical runs. Sildaru and China’s Eileen Gu, who did not compete at X Games, are expected to battle it out for Olympic gold.

Men’s snowboard superpipe

My pick: Ayumu Hirano

Actual winner: Scotty James

Japan’s Ayumu Hirano made his return to X Games after sitting out the past three years and didn’t disappoint, finishing second and even landed the first-ever triple cork at X Games, but the Australian great that is Scotty James wasn’t going to be denied. The battle between those two, not to mention American legend Shaun White and Japan’s Yuto Totsuka, who both skipped X Games, is going to be wild at the Olympics. Good showing from Ayumu’s little brother, Kaishu Hirano, who won bronze at X Games.

Women’s ski slopestyle

My pick: Kelly Sildaru

Actual winner: Tess Ledeux

Sildaru fell on her first run in the rail section and withdrew. Ledeux, the 20-year-old from France, was sensational this year at X Games and went home with two gold medals after stepping in to win slopestyle as well as big air. She’s on fire right now, but will still only be a darkhorse at the Olympics with Sildaru and Gu in the mix.

Canada’s Mark McMorris stands at the bottom of the course after taking the gold medal in the men’s snowboard slopestyle finals at X Games Aspen on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022, at Buttermilk Ski Area.
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

Men’s snowboard slopestyle

My pick: Mark McMorris

Actual winner: Mark McMorris

After missing X Games Aspen 2021 because of a positive COVID-19 test, Canada’s Mark McMorris returned to win his record 21st Winter X Games medal in a dramatic battle that went down to the wire with Norway’s Marcus Kleveland. Simply put, X Games is better with McMorris competing. Sweden’s Sven Thorgren won bronze, while Silverthorne’s Red Gerard, the reigning Olympic gold medalist in slopestyle, was fourth.

Women’s snowboard big air

My pick: Miyabi Onitsuka

Actual winner: Zoi Sadowski-Synnott

The Kiwi went 2 for 2 at X Games, edging Anderson both times. Japan’s Miyabi Onitsuka was solid, winning big air bronze, but Sadowski-Synnott and the Tahoe legend have seriously pulled away from the pack. Only five women ultimately competed in big air at X Games. Of note, this was Anderson’s 21st career Winter X Games medal, putting her into a tie with McMorris for the most in the event’s history.

Japan’s Sena Tomita airs out of the superpipe during the women’s finals of X Games Aspen on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022, at Buttermilk Ski Area. Tomita took home the gold.
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

Women’s snowboard superpipe

My pick: Maddie Mastro

Actual winner: Sena Tomita

California’s Maddie Mastro just can’t get it to come together at X Games. A bum ankle forced her to withdraw late in the competition and she finished fifth, but she’s only 21 and is still a force in the sport and will be for many more years. Japan’s Sena Tomita, 22, was the surprise winner over Spain’s Queralt Castellet. The end when Tomita was awarded her medal was priceless, as the modest rider didn’t know Mastro had opted out of her final run. Worth watching. Japan’s Haruna Matsumoto won bronze.

Men’s ski big air

My pick: Matej Svancer

Actual winner: Alex Hall

Matej Svancer, the 17-year-old big air sensation from Austria, will have his X Games moment some day. It just wasn’t this year, finishing fifth. That said, Utah’s Alex Hall made a big statement by winning gold and might just be the Olympic frontrunner. His 2160 — yes, 2160, as in six full rotations — was truly one of the “wow” moments at X Games. Connecticut’s Mac Forehand, an X Games rookie and rising star, won silver.

Men’s snowboard big air

My pick: Marcus Kleveland

Actual winner: Marcus Kleveland

Kleveland has left little doubt in recent years that he is the best big air snowboarder on the planet. It was close at X Games, with Kleveland just edging Canada’s Max Parrot and Finland’s Rene Rinnekangas. Kleveland should be the Olympic favorite. He also won the snowboard knuckle huck competition, an event which he inspired. McMorris finished fourth in big air, meaning he remained stuck at 21 career X Games medals with Anderson.

Park City freeskier Alex Hall competes in the men’s ski slopestyle finals at X Games Aspen on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, at Buttermilk Ski Area.
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

Men’s ski slopestyle

My pick: Alex Hall

Actual winner: Andri Ragettli

He didn’t win, but Hall was still impressive in finishing third for another X Games medal. The American is skiing as well as anyone right now and come Beijing should do a heck of a lot better than the 16th he took in slopestyle at the 2018 Olympics. Canada’s Max Moffatt won silver at X Games and looked solid, while Switzerland’s Andri Ragettli held off the pack for his first slopestyle gold in Aspen.

Men’s ski superpipe

My pick: Alex Ferreira

Actual winner: Nico Porteous

Aspen’s Alex Ferreira was a late scratch from the contest, needing to rest up before the Olympics. New Zealand’s Nico Porteous defended his gold from 2021 with another amazing performance this year, winning on his final run over Crested Butte’s Aaron Blunck and Nevada’s David Wise. Porteous should be the Olympic favorite, in all fairness, but any of those names, including Ferreira, can win. Of note, this contest was presumably the final X Games run for the Telluride-raised Gus Kenworthy, who will retire after the Olympics.