X Games Day 1 notes: Anderson wins 16th medal with big air bronze
Launching off an 80-foot jump became a matter of attrition Thursday night as half of the women in the snowboard big air field didn’t finish after numerous crashes, including one that kept the most decorated woman in X Games history from coming back.
Jamie Anderson won bronze Thursday night, the snowboarder’s 16th X Games medal of her career. But she was not able to finish the 25-minute session after a frontside 1080 that went wrong on her fourth run.
Anderson, 28, landed facing uphill and hit her face hard in the landing area. After a few minutes with a medical team, Anderson was able to walk away.
The slopestyle guru (she’s won a medal for 14 consecutive years in that discipline) also won bronze last year in big air. Thursday night, her earlier runs were enough to hold onto a medal. She is scheduled to compete in the slopestyle finals at 11 a.m. Saturday.
X Games newcomer Laurie Bouin, 22, had the best two scores combined, narrowly edging out New Zealand rider Zoi Sadowski-Synnott, who on the final run jumped to second place with a clean switch backside 900.
There were a number of crashes in practice and that led to the field thinning out.
Julia Marino, who in 2017 won big air bronze and gold in slopestyle in Aspen, dropped out before Thursday’s event. Japan’s Reira Iwabuchi, who won silver last year, also dropped out before the start. California rider Hailey Langland, who won big air in 2017, dropped out after her first run.
The event was already without Austrian rider Anna Gasser, last year’s winner who also got gold in the sports Olympic debut at the Pyeongchang Games a month later. She is nursing an ankle injury and did not compete Thursday night.
In November, Gasser because the first woman to land a cab triple 1260.
Last week, she fractured her right ankle at the World Cup slopestyle event in Switzerland. She does not need surgery but is questionable for the World Championships next month in Park City, Utah.
MEN’S SNOWBOARD BIG AIR
The men’s snowboard big air competition will be a bit different this year at X Games. Missing from the lineup is the reigning gold medalist, Canadian Max Parrot.
Parrot, who won snowboard big air gold in Aspen three years in a row in 2016-18, is out for the season after recently being diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma and starting treatment.
In addition to Parrot being absent, Marcus Kleveland also is not at this year’s X Games.
Because the three 2018 X Games Aspen medalists automatically advance to the big air final, last year’s bronze medalist Yuki Kadono, fourth-place finisher Mark McMorris and Chris Corning, who came in fifth in 2018, automatically advance.
Joining them in the finals Friday at 8:35 p.m. are top-qualifier Sven Thorgren from Sweden, Takeru Otsuka from Japan, Canadian Sebastien Toutant (who won big air gold at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics), Canadian Darcy Sharpe and relative newcomer Rene Rinnekangas from Finland.
MEN’S SKI SLOPE
Skier Alex Beaulieu-Marchand was the top qualifier out of the slopestyle elimination round Thursday with a 93.66-point run on his first of two trips down the course. The Canadian won bronze in the 2017 slopestyle competition — his only X Games medal in six trips to Aspen.
Also advancing were Americans Alex Hall of Park City; Willie Borm, the Minnesota skier making his Aspen X debut; and veteran Nick Goepper, who had a three-year run winning slopestyle (2013-15).
The top seven Thursday advanced to Sunday’s finals and will meet the 2018 medalists Henrik Harlaut, Oystein Braaten and Andri Ragettli, who all got an automatic spot in this year’s final.
Missing will be Gus Kenworthy of Telluride. In his ninth trip to Aspen, Kenworthy fell on both runs in the qualifier. He also struggled Thursday in the pipe, falling on all three runs. Kenworthy is scheduled to compete in the big air elimination round Friday.
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This summer in Aspen is likely to include indoor and outdoor concerts, maskless gatherings and no state or county-mandated restrictions on social distancing at restaurants or anywhere else.