The men’s Big Air was a free-for-all of crazy antics thrown in to the mix, with Josh Dirksen attempted and pulling a one-footed backflip, Jason Brown having a friend stand just below the jump with a board raised over his head to bonk, and Marc-Andre Tarte spinning his helmet off his head, through his legs, and back onto his head, in mid air.
All of it made the entertainment value of the Big Air contest stand out like no other event during the week, but the real drama went right on down to the final jump, which seemed to be a trend at this year’s X Games.
To decide the winners, the field of 24 men took three jumps each. They were judged on amplitude, execution, difficulty, landings, and use of jumps, and only the best jump counted.
Todd Richards opened things up with a stomped 900 and a score of 89.33 that set the pace for the day, as riders tried to spin and land more cleanly. With a field that included such big-air notables as Ben Hinkley, Travis Parker, Stefan Gimpl, Jim Rippey, last year’s Silver medal winner Jason Borgstede, and last year’s bronze winner Kevin Jones (and this year’s Slopestyle winner), it was a possibility that someone would edge out Richards.
Last year’s men’s winner, Peter Line, didn’t enter, but was lurking around all week, on the mic doing interviews for ESPN instead of competing.
Although most riders were looking strong and sticking 540s and Rodeos, it was going to take something more than a one-footed backflip to take it. So on his third run, Josh Dirksen pulled out a 900 that put him in second behind Richards, and bumped hard-charging Sani Alibabic down one place.
A couple of riders later, Oksanen landed a switch backside nine and took the lead with a score of 90, barely beating Richards’ score. It looked like the last rider of the day, Kevin Jones, might pull off another miracle comeback as he did in the Slopestyle two days before, but he fell on his landing.
“It feels good to finally win,” Oksanen said. He admits that he has more fun doing the slopestyle events, but wasn’t bummed that he won today.
The other riders were happy with the final outcome as well. “I’m stoked,” said Richards after the event. “To get second to Jussi is pretty much winning as far as I’m concerned. We had a good time on the jump. This made up so much for my crappy performance yesterday in the pipe. I was kind of bummed yesterday, but I seem to do better in the events that I don’t put any pressure on myself to do well in, so maybe I’ll just start doing more big airs and different stuff. My girlfriend’s going to freak when I tell her I got second in the big air.”
Dirksen’s placing jump was a backside nine Indy grab, after he abandoned the one-footed airs. “I was trying different stuff and just having fun, but figured out that wasn’t going to work out for the top places,” he said. “I’m stoked and had fun.”
Men’s Big Air Results
1. Jussi Oksanen2. Todd Richards3. Josh Dirksen4. Sani Alibabic5. Kevin Jones6. Ben Hinkley7. Travis Parker8. Stefan Gimpl9. Marc-Andrew Tarte10. Kevin Sansalone