Australia’s Scotty James wins 1st X Games gold in snowboard superpipe
Special to the Summit Daily News
ASPEN — Scotty James certainly had a long time to wait, and so much to wait through.
James laid down his best run of the night — maybe the biggest of his career — on his first try in Thursday night’s X Games men’s snowboard superpipe event.
It wasn’t even just his first run. It was the event’s.
He scored in at 90 points and, despite the long list of elite competition that followed him for two runs down Buttermilk’s superpipe, none were better.
After nearly two more hours of snowboarding, that first run James landed was still worthy of gold.
“I was very nervous,” James said, considering the field that came in behind him, featuring, among others, eight-time X Games superpipe gold medalist Shaun White, two-time gold medalist Danny Davis and reigning gold medalist Matt Ladley.
“There was a very strong field, and I was stoked to come away with that first score, but there were a lot of fearsome competitors to come with great tricks,” he said.
They had the credentials, but on this night they didn’t have the scores and, one by one, they couldn’t land runs on a difficult, icy superpipe.
The few who could land runs ended up joining James on the podium. Steamboat Springs’ Taylor Gold, who missed last season’s X Games with a knee injury, landed his second run and scored a 79 to place third. It was his first superpipe podium.
Ladley, also from Steamboat, hit on the event’s final run, scoring an 80 to earn a spot on the podium for the second consecutive winter.
James also made his second trip to the podium in as many years after placing third last year.
“This means the world to me,” he said. “It’s cliche of me to say it’s a dream come true, but a lot of guys think of winning the gold medal at X Games. Today it happened for me, and I’m beyond stoked.”
Chase Josey was fourth, Danny Davis fifth and Louie Vito sixth. Olympic gold medalist Iouri Podladtchikov finished 10th in the 12-rider field and White was 11th.
Big air 1sts
California teen Hailey Langland might have thrown down the first buzzer-beater in snowboarding history. And she had no clue she was even tossing up a Hail Mary.
“I honestly had no idea what the time was. I still thought we had like 20 more minutes,” Langland said. “It’s a bit surreal. I can’t honestly believe that this just happened. But I’m super stoked.”
On Thursday, Langland won the first women’s snowboard big air competition in X Games Aspen history, landing her winning run in the final seconds. Athletes competed in a 25-minute “jam” session, with the top two runs per rider combining to create their score.
Langland, in only her second X Games Aspen, scored 49 out of a possible 50 on her fifth and final run as the clock ticked under 10 seconds. That run, combined with a 17 in her second run, pushed her to 66 and past runner-up finisher Anna Gasser, who scored 64. X Games rookie Julia Marino was third with 61.
“I could definitely tell the girls were gunning for that top spot,” Langland said. “The jam format was pretty new. I actually really liked it for some reason. Normally I like to relax before a run and just chill, but I liked how high speed this was.”
Langland, 16, is from San Clemente, California, and is close friends with Chloe Kim, snowboarding’s superpipe queen. Langland made her X Games debut in 2016, taking third in slopestyle.
Gasser’s opening run of 38 set the pace, with Langland not looking like a factor. Jamie Anderson, the most decorated X Games snowboarder in slopestyle history, looked strong early, with runs of 28, 23 and 29. But her fourth run ended with a nasty crash that knocked her out of the competition. She finished fourth.
With Gasser all but having the gold medal around her neck, the 16-year-old Langland laid down the run of her big-air life, landing the first cab double cork 1080 by a woman in X Games history.
“I can’t even believe that all just happened,” Langland said. “It was awesome and I’m really stoked I even got to put it down.”
While men’s big air has been around for years in Aspen, this was the first women’s big air competition. There will be a women’s ski big air competition Saturday night, also a first.
Hibbert denied 10th gold
Earlier Thursday, Swede Petter Narsa stunned the crowd by winning the snowmobile snocross competition. It was his first X Games Aspen medal. Taking second was Adam Renheim, also of Sweden, and third was American Lincoln Lemieux.
The stunning part came with the fourth-place finish of Minnesota’s Tucker Hibbert, who was going for his 10th straight gold in the competition.
In the snowmobile snocross adaptive race, Minnesota’s Mike Schultz cruised to his sixth career gold medal in the event.
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