Young Guns Lock Top Spots At X Games Men’s Slope Elimination

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Snowboard slopestyle kicked off this morning with the men's elimination round--a barrage of back-to-back bangers and double-cork throwdowns. Sixteen men competed for eight spots on a course consisting of various rails and jibs into a big triple line--a 55, 65, and finally a 68-foot kicker (officially dubbed the "deposit," "down payment," and "money" booters). Although it seems like pros should be able to get it done in two, this year's qualifiers were a best of three-run format, so there was plenty of chances for contenders to make it happen ... maybe too many? For heavy hitters like Andreas Wiig and Travis Rice, a top-eight run remained elusive.

Today's top qualifier, 19-year-old Halldor Helgason, was the third rider to drop this morning and took that very opportunity to set the bar for the rest of his fellow competitors--smooth, techy jibbing on the top of the course into a brilliant kicker line combo that wound up with a double cork frontside 1080 to switch backside 900. The judges handed him a 93 point score that would remain the one to beat for the rest of the contest. In Halldor's second run, he attempted and almost nailed a backside 1260 double cork. Better stay tuned for Sunday's finals--we're betting that thing will probably be a go!

Fellow Norwegian countrymen Mikkel Bang and Torstein Horgmo touched down in second and third behind Halldor. One of the most stylish riders in the entire competition, Mikkel frolicked down the course, frontside 540 nosepressing the "hitching post" (an elevated metal pipe situated horizontally to the riders) and spinning this insane combo: Cab 7 into switch backside 9 into front 1080. Horgmo waited until his second run to really throw down, but it was worth the wait--bluntslide backside 270 out up top, and a stacked triple line that went like this: switch backside 900, frontside 1080, backside 1080.

Shoutouts to the up and comers that qualified for Sunday’s finals. Sixteen-year-old Sage Kotsenburg (the youngest rider competing this morning) threw down this sick combo: Cab 9, front 10, back 10 with a late cork. Also, X-Games newcomer Eric Willet unleashed a switch backside 900 to front 1080 to double-cork backside rodeo that qualified him in spot number 7.

Okay, that's all for now. Keep your eyes peeled for our coverage of tonight--men's superpipe finals, people!

Men's Slopestyle Elimination Results

1.         Halldor Helgason
2.         Mikkel Bang
3.         Torstein Horgmo
4.         Tim Humphreys
5.         Chas Guldemond
6.         Sage Kotsenburg
7.         Eric Willett
8.         Eero Ettala

9.         Peetu Piiroinen
10.        Andreas Wiig
11.        Tyler Flanagan
12.        Brandon Reis
13.        Heikki Sorsa
14.        Jussi Oksanen
15.        Travis Rice
16.        Eiki Helgason