Oakley Skiers Win Six Medals at Winter X 17; Harlaut Wins First Two WX Medals
The unpredictability of Winter X Games is part of the event’s appeal. New tricks, new names, upsets, surprises and general stimuli overload. The crowds, the tricks, the crashes, the variables, it all adds to the excitement. Those elements, along with the constant commitment to innovation at almost every level.
In the weeks and months leading up to Winter X in Aspen, Colo., Henrik Harlaut had stayed away from anything resembling a traditional training program. Instead, the 21-year-old Swede had been touring the East Coast, skiing icy slopes as part of the Inspired Demo Tour. Small mountains with the occasional rail and maybe a small jump or two. Nothing close to what’d he encounter in Big Air and Slopestyle with the eyes of the world watching.
In the dying minutes of the Big Air jam session final, with the encouragement of his friend and mentor, Tanner Hall, Harlaut launched one of the most difficult and stunning moves ever attempted in the event: a Nose Butter Triple Cork 1620 – a trick he’d never previously attempted.
“I had the trick in my mind for the past month, but wasn’t really planning on trying it unless I had to," Harlaut explained afterward. "Tanner Hall, Taylor Seaton and Vincent Gagnier were up [at the top of the course] and they motivated me. Tanner was like, ‘Yo dog, you gotta make history, let’s do it.’ So I did it.”
The result: a perfect 50 and his first X Games medal.
Kai Mahler followed in Harlaut’s footsteps, laying down a clean triple of his own in the Big Air Finals to win Silver. In the press conference, both Mahler and Harlaut offered reluctance to having triples become the norm in the event, preferring to stick to doubles with more emphasis on style and grabs.
Harlaut carried the momentum of his result in Big Air into Slopestyle the next day and added a Silver Medal to his resume.
In women’s Slopestyle, three-time defending Gold Medalist Kaya Turski had to dig deep to get onto the podium. In a final riddled with spills, Turski had to rely on her third and final run to move from last into the top three. The Canadian Slopestyle stud had to wait nearly an hour between her second and third runs do to a fellow competitor’s injury, but once she got the green light, Turski showed why she’s been the most dominant skier in the event in the past several years. Her run included a rodeo 540, a switch 720, and a switch cork 540 for a score of 90 and the Silver Medal.
“I’m just so relieved,” Turski admitted. “I had a really rough time on my first two runs falling on a box that wasn’t giving me any trouble all week. I’m stoked I brought the rodeo trick to my comp and I pulled it off after all the waiting at the top.”
After having to miss Dew Tour several months ago after a horrific wrist injury, nine-time Winter X medalist Simon Dumont was back in the Superpipe. With 11 pins and three screws in his wrist, he opted to compete without poles due to limited grip ability. In his 12th consecutive X Games final, Dumont came from behind in his final run to land on the podium with a Bronze Medal.
“It has been a long road,” Dumont said. “My mindset was to get as strong as I could this year after surgery, but then going into Dew Tour things did not work out. Between the knee and my wrists, I’m just really happy to be on the podium again. It refuels my drive to know I can be up here with these guys. I’m really looking forward to being healthy with new tricks next year.”
After becoming the first woman to land two 900s in one run last year in Superpipe, Megan Gunning put together another stylish and well-executed performance to make her way onto the podium for the first time at Winter X, taking home the Bronze Medal.
With another memorable Winter X in the books – in the words of Henrik Harlaut: “It was awesome” – we can now start to ponder, where can this world of action sports go next?