Video/Editing: Justin Gunson
Photos: Chris Wellhausen
With the announcers booming, the riders cheering, and the crowd chanting over and again, Torstein Horgmo hopped onto the sled for one more ride to the top. Despite having fallen hard on his two previous attempts (yet both times managing to rise to his feet and ride away), there was never a doubt in regards to what was about to go down. As the cameras began to converge, Tor leans down, gives one last click to the bindings, and prepares to drop--but then yields. Hands folded and head bent low, it was time for the injured Norwegian to focus.
Friday night at Winter X Games 15 debuted new events, refreshed competition, and one very special NBD into the Aspen/Snowmass night. Beginning with the first-ever Best Method event, riders took to the Big Air jump to pay their homage to Brushie, Terje, Jamie Lynn, and more by showcasing the loftiest Grassers in their arsenal. Jack Mitrani went as far as to hyper one-piece the contest, harking to the days of hardboot ankle-tweakage with a class only J-Town could afford. Not to be outdone, Chas Guldemond pulled the ultimate ‘Text Voting Is BS’ wardrobe malfunction, kicking out his strongest between-the-bindings tweaker while somehow misplacing his shirt (and chest hair, for that matter). But the kids with the truest grab-style? None other than 2002 Olympic Gold Medalist Ross Powers and 2010 Bronze Medalist Scotty Lago. The comeback of ages, Ross was boning out nose methods like never before, giving the crowds a much-appreciated incognito darkhorse to cheer for throughout. But in the end, Scott Robert kicked ’em out harder, held ’em longer, and tweaked ’em stonger than the rest, resulting in respect from the field and cheers from the crowd en route to his first X Games Best Method Gold Medal.
The lights dimmed, the sounds grew, and it became obvious to the engaged crows that the stage was finally set--prime-time snowboarding was about to begin. X Games Big Air has long been a standout event of the annual gathering, with names such as Halldór, Torstein, Travis, and many more earning the recent titles. But the times, well, they have been a-changing. With the Big Air competitors sharing an average age of 19.6, it was clear the torch was ready to be passed--if odds-favorite Torstein Horgmo could finally be beat. Coming off a spectacular showing in Slopestyle Prelims where he posted a 97 (the highest Slope score in X Games history, in fact), all eyes were on Sebastién Toutant going into the night’s ender session. The 18-year old Quebecoise has been showing signs of greatness since he first stepped on the international stage at 13, and after coming back from a leg injury that sidelined him for most of last season, has been set on finding his way to the top. One of the first riders to land a back double ten a few years ago, his flawless and almost casual (and actually “double corked”…) 10s, 12s, and Cab 12s are something to see, and would earn the young Canadian a Silver Medal in X Games Big Air. As Seb would later say, “Big Air is pushing progession so much. Right now, all the tricks in Big Air are making their way to Slopestyle. All of those double cork variations are going to be here on Sunday, and it’s great to see. I’m stoked, for sure!”
Keeping things young, 17-year Sage Kotsenburg rounded out the Big Air podium, gaining a bit of satisfaction for his questionable snubbing in the Slopestyle Prelims earlier that day. The Park City kid was ecstatic with his place: “Being up with Tor and Seb is great! They’ve been killing it all year, and it’s sick to be up with them.”
So there he was. Torstein’s head was leaned slightly forward, contemplating what was about to come. As the rounds of “Triple Cork, Triple Cork” rocked the slopes, he looked up, fixed his gear, and began to slid down the runway--and then came the drop. As a collective inhale silenced the masses, all watched, unblinking, as 1, 2, and 3 times around Tor would go. The Triple Cork, as so many had hope to see, had finally been brought to X!! Or wait … was it? The “Media” rushed to claim it immediately, but we’re not so sure--and even Tor himself disagrees. “No, it’s not. I wanted to come around fakie, but had to put down a little hand drag. It was probably the stupidest move I’ve ever done in my whole life. [Laughs] These guys [Seb and Sage] looked like they had a better time doing their tricks than me!” Regardless of whether or not “The Triple” has been put down at X, once thing’s for sure: anyone sending three flips over an 85-footer on live TV--while suffering from broken ribs and a possible concussion--is a boss.
With Superpipe, Slopestyle, Best Method, Real Snow, and Big Air Finals all on the schedule, this year’s X Games at Aspen/Snowmass promises to tear the roof off. Stay up on all Winter X Games 15 coverage atFacebook.com/TWSnow, Twitter.com/TWSnow, and right here at TWSnow.com.