Results X-Games

There are spirited battles fought in all the events at the ESPN Winter X-Games, but the story the television doesn’t tell is the real juice of this extreme-sports hellstorm: snowmobile mechanics at the bar beside Tony Hawk, sub-zero freestyle motocross on snow, Jumbotron screens on the slopes, and parties with free drinks. Back in the hills of southern Vermont, the event lived up to its reputation again last year. Be assured, everything about the Games was extreme-along with the state police, event staff and security were on high alert, night and day.

From the looks of the crowds lurking around Mt. Snow resort, the tentacles of the extreme revolution stretch pretty far these dark days. To put it kindly, it was a colorful crowd; skier chicks, autograph collectors, pro-hos, union cameramen, Vermont hicks-you name it. Luckily, the snowboarders came out in droves and made this their weekend. And though they’re only a piece of the market-share pie chart, the snowboard events are the backbone of the whole circus, standing as a credible competitive element in this arena of thrills and spills broadcast coverage. Highlights of the Games usually only feature those who fall, so we’ll stick to who finished standing up.

Slopestyle There were low-level predictions that the ’01/02 Winter-X would feature a jib-style event-a handrail showdown of sorts, and who wouldn’t welcome it? Hold that thought. An improvised snowboard park run is the basis of this event, promising the factors of style and imagination, but usually turning into technical pistol-waving. Not this time-fans weren’t left cold waiting for the lucky huck at Mt. Snow. Consistent riding, proper course layout, and decent landings saved the day. Handrails and a variety of lines made this event interesting to watch, but a peek inside the media tent during the slopestyle finals told a different story. Dozens of smarmy non-snowboard-media zombies shambled around the tent sipping Mountain Dew and talking on phones-it was hot in there, stuffy. None of them knew or cared that outside and up the hill, it was on. I grabbed more Red Bull and split.

U.S. Open Big-Air champ of 2000 Jaime MacLeod smoked Shannon Dunn by actually grabbing her board on the big jump, to earn the gold medal. Marni Yamada, who showed no fear of the handrail at the top of the course, got the bronze for her efforts. The men’s division showcased some strong riding. The lines were as diverse as the riders, and the final five made the difficult look elementary. Chad Otterstrom and Jason Borgstede took the fifth and fourth spots respectively, though definite arguments about Chad’s scores would later be pondered. Jussi Oksanen came in third and has such an ease of style that the crowd seemed more baffled than impressed-it’s the Tony Hawk syndrome. Jussi’s damn good-but not quite good enough to break the strategies of Todd Richards and Kevin Jones. Richards looked like the odds-on favorite and would likely have taken the gold in a quick poll of spectators. But Jones secured the top spot with furious handrail trickery-this is where the instant replay factors in. To add an anchor to already solid scores, Jones uncorked a spin to rail that brought down the house, and sent him home with the biggest check.

Superpipe Women’s halfpipe riding took a beating with the introduction of the superpipe, but things were looking up at the X-Games. Kelly Clark rode with authority until casing the deck in the final. This was her contest, but she ended up in the fifth spot. Stine Brun-Kjeldaas, Fabienne Reuteler, and Natasza Zurek made up fourth through second places. Shannon Dunn worked hard to impress the crowd and judges-she won.

The main event went down under bright sun, and the battle for glory was fought tooth and nail. The men’s finals were energized with an air of imminent mayhem-the riders and the crowd alike, wired and dizzy. The shreds who made it are names we’re used to seeing, but there were a few new faces; Giacomoo Kratter from Italy burned like hellfire. When he gets his hands around a solid contest run-look out. Norway’s Espen Arvesen is one of a new wave of Scanners, seriously. Ron Chiodi ripped up into the mix again, throwing slow-spinning big melon McTwists all day. “Hot Dog” Daniel Franck rode with a renewed vigor-enough to get him into sixth place. The Vermont crowd saw solid 900s from the following: Shaun White, Tommy Czeschin, Ross Powers, and Dan Kass. Mike Michalchuk was possessed. The boys were spinning-none so much as Dan Kass, though. Tommy “The Machine” Czeschin made a strong go of it, battling Powers for the number-two spot, they ended up in a tie-so it goes in a best-of-three final. Ross’ backside three stalefish is a great example of the power of style: Ross is called “the boss” for a reason-he’s in charge. While Czeschin and Powers scrambled for second, Dan Kass just lobbed grenades all day in the pipe. Kass pulled a score of over 95, besting all other runs by five points-all the while yawning between runs and dorking around with his buddies at the bottom of the pipe. Inverted 720s, corked 900s, and a demented Haakonflip are the moves that make this kid the halfpipe force of the future. There is a calm in his riding that has the old guard sweating bullets. Kass has a bit of Chris Roach in him, a little Brushie, maybe some Mark Gonzales, and balls of steel. He won the contest-there was no question about it. Later that night Kass celebrated in high style-offering up victory beverages to Tony Hawk and scamming his underage crew into the VIP party.

Big AirThe jump seemed small to the riders, but pretty big from the bottom, where addled media drones, coaches, and stragglers looked on. Tired X-Games casualties made their way to the resort exit as riders started to heat up the funny little jump. Jason Brown woke the crowd up early with a bit of the Sunday-morning jibbings. He had a friend stand above the landing with a board held overhead and launched the jump into a backside lipslide across it-funny. The crowd came unglued when Josh Dirksen whipped his rear foot out on a backflip. After scrambling around for a piece of stomp pad, he scavenged a chunk of foam off someone’s board, and nailed the second one. A clean one-foot backflip-that’s a move sure to make heavy rotation in the X-highlight clips. Todd Richards’ first run score on a backside nine kept him in first throughout most of the contest-but it just wasn’t enough. Jussi Oksanen scooped the victory with a Cab nine, and questions on that score remain-either way, the big air was a fitting end to a long weekend of made-for-TV action. Cameramen were quickly dispatched to the adjacent venue as the snowmobile hill-crossers were warming up the sleds. The rest is a blur of screeching two-stroke engines, bad music, and extreme traffic delays on Vermont’s old Route 100.

Slopestyle
Women
1. Jaime MacLeod
2. Shannon Dunn
3. Marni Yamada
4. Katrina Voutilainen
5. Barrett Christy
Men
1. Kevin Jones
2. Todd Richards
3. Jussi Oksanen
4. Jason Borgstede
5. Chad Otterstrom

Superpipe
Women
1. Shannon Dunn
2. Natasza Zurek
3. Fabienne Reuteler
4. Stine Brun-Kjeldaas
5. Kelly Clark

Men
1. Dan Kass
2. Tommy Czeschin
3. Ross Powers
4. Guillaume Morrissett
5. Mike Michalchuk

Big Air
Men
1. Jussi Oksanen
2. Todd Richards
3. Josh Dirksen
4. Sani Alibabic
5. Kevin Jones