Max Parrot Wins Two Golds at Winter X; Oakley Snowboarders Win 9 Medals
If what went down at Winter X Games over the past four days is any indication of what will happen in Sochi in two weeks, the biggest event in sports is in for quite the show. In what has come to be a sort of annual tradition, the tricks got bigger and gnarlier and new names were added to the action sports conversation.
After announcing himself on the X Games stage last year with a silver medal in Slopestyle, Canadian Max Parrot put together a dominant 24-hour stretch in Aspen. Competing for the first year in Big Air, Parrot won with a backside triple cork 1620 and Cab triple underflip to late 180. The next afternoon, Parrot put down a run in Slopestyle that included two triple corks to win his second gold medal of the weekend, narrowly defeating the two-time reigning gold medalist and favorite in the event, Mark McMorris.
“This year I finally got to a level of consistency in my riding and now I’m just pushing it. All the tricks I do I’ve done a million times, so the pressure of doing them is going down,” said Parrot, who’ll be representing Canada in Sochi. “I’ve been working and training a lot and I’m just so happy that it’s all working out.”
McMorris had a chance to top Parrot with his third and final run, but crashed in the rail section, fracturing his rib. Stale Sandbech won bronze in Slopestyle to match the medal he’d won the previous evening in Big Air. Yuki Kadono won the silver in Big Air, giving Oakley back-to-back podium sweeps.
In women’s Slopestyle, Silje Norendal came into the event with a relativley simple goal: land a run. For one reason or another, Norendal had never succeeded a completing a full run at X Games in Aspen. She achieved that goal on her first run and the stepped up the difficulty in her third run, with a boardslide to 270 out on one rail, and a frontside 720, a backside rodeo 540, a Cab 720 and a switch backside 540 in the jumps for a score of 96.0.
“I just wanted to land a run that I was happy with and that was my first run. I didn’t know if I could step it up. It’s such a heavy, challenging course, and to be honest, I didn’t think anyone could beat Jamie [Anderson] on this course,” said Silje Norendal, who landed her first-ever runs at X Games Aspen. “I don’t know what happened my last run, I just got it together. I was just so excited when I landed my switch back 5 on my last jump.”
Anderson was able to earn the silver medal, narrowly missing out on an X Games Aspen three-peat.
While Chloe Kim laid down runs in Superpipe that let everyone know that she’s on the verge of becoming one of the next big names in women’s snowboarding, an icon of the sport bid farewell to the X Games crowd. Gretchen Bleiler announced that this was her last X Games and went out with style, executing her run to perfection and waving to the audience with a big smile on her face and tears in the corners of her eyes. Bleiler finished sixth, while Kim won the silver medal.
“It’s been an emotional couple of weeks. The Olympic qualifiers were so intense and it’s been tough knowing that I’m not where I’ve been in the past. But it’s been a good lesson in being humble and doing the best you can for right now," Bleiler said. “It’s also been emotional knowing that this is my last contest. I’m going to miss it tremendously.”
Shaun White opted to sit out X Games in order to continue training for the Olympics, while Japanese wunderkind Ayumu Hirano pulled out due to an injury. Both are expected to battle for the gold in Sochi.