PHOTOS: Aaron Blatt
Ok, before I get into how insane the big air contest was, let me just say that it's god damn cold in Aspen at night. When it's clear, with a nice crescent moon, sometimes you don't notice how cold it really is. But on January 26, 2012, it was very noticeable.
Big air once again returned to Winter X this year with a field of 10 amazing riders. The riders were broken down into two heats of five riders, each heat getting a 15-minute jam session. In the first heat it was Sage Kotsenburg, Torstein Horgmo, Stale Sandbech, Tyler Flanagan, and Seppe Smits. The tricks went off, with the majority of the riders doing every 1080, and double cork imaginable. Torstein's double cork could be seen from miles away, it's pretty sick. And Seppe Smits can spin faster then anyone I've ever seen, in any direction.
The stand out of heat number one though, in my opinion, was Sage Kotsenburg. Rather than flipping and throwing style to the wind, he did mellow tricks like poked out frontside 360s, and lofty switch backside 180's. It was awesome. Progression is one thing, and it's great, but progression doesn't just mean added rotations and flips—it also means an advancement in ones style, and that's exactly what Sage displayed during the contest. In the end Sage's sick style wasn't what the judges wanted to see and he didn't make it into the next heat.
Heat number two was the more action packed of the heats, featuring Gjermund Braaten, Halldor Helgason, Eric Willett, Mark McMorris, and Sebastian Toutant. These guys were not holding back. Double cork 1080's, flat spin 1260's, you name it, it was done.
The rider to watch was Halldór Helgason. He’s can do all of the crazy double corks, but he's also able to make them look really good. Halldór was trying his infamous "Lobster" flip all night, which is a double backside rodeo flip with a super tweaked, laid out japan grab in the middle, but he wasn't able to land it during the contest. He did however stomp the shit out of the trick right after the contest ended. Alas, it didn't count, and Halldór didn't make the finals.
Throughout the night, the anticipation of seeing a triple cork was high. While people wanted to see the triple, at first it looked like it wasn't going to be possible on the given jump.
The final five were Eric Willett, Torstein Horgmo, Seppe Smits, Mark McMorris, and Seb Toots. The session started off with a double cork 10 from Mark, and it never cooled down. Torstein was the first one to try a triple cork, but he didn't land it. After seeing Torstein try his backside 1440 triple, Mark had to try it as well. He threw the triple a few times before finally getting it around with bit of a sketchy landing. Torstein couldn't let that slide, and he had to get his. The backside 1440 triple he put down was the cleanest triple yet. At the end of the night though, there could be only one victor, and that man was Mark McMorris, with Torstein in second and Seb Toots in third.
Check back soon to see full recaps from the rest of X. We still have pipe and slope to go, so get ready!
RANK NAME TOP 1 TOP 2 TOP 3 TOP 4 BEST 2
• 1 Mark McMorris Watch Live 49.00 31.00 30.00 14.00 80.00
• 2 Torstein Horgmo Watch Live 50.00 26.00 14.00 14.00 76.00
• 3 Sebastien Toutant Watch Live 41.00 35.00 26.00 12.00 76.00
• 4 Eric Willett 39.00 37.00 11.00 11.00 76.00
• 5 Seppe Smits 35.00 33.00 32.00 24.00 68.00