Oakley Riders Step Up At Day Two Of The European X Games
It was a big day at the first ever Winter X Games Europe. With weather that finally cooperated, the backdrop was set for a spectacle that Tignes would not forget. The men were the first to set to the show, as yesterday’s troubles had, with the help of a little jump work and some sun, transformed the course into a snowboarding showdown.
The eight hit course was finally running fast and clean and the riders were taking full advantage. Multiple double corks were thrown out from the get go, with Oakley’s Stephan Maurer (SUI) grabbing the lead early with a laid out double back flip off the bottom kicker to cap his run.
Maurer’s lead held almost the entire event, but it came down to the final runs of the day and when it all shook out Stephan landed himself in 4th place and high fives from the rest of the field.
As the sun faded behind the French Alps for the day, the lights of the night superpipe contest lit up the sky and the stage was set for some great pipe riding. Women’s final went first and the #2 qualifier going into the event was Oakley’s Ellery Hollingsworth (USA). Ellery has had a great season so far and came into European X Games superpipe charging for a podium.
In the best of three run format, Ellery put down a solid set of runs but found herself just outside the medals, finishing in 5th place for the week. Dropping right after the women were the men for their qualification round and this was an internationally stacked heat, including some of Oakley’s heavy hitters; JJ Thomas(USA), Stale Sandbech (NOR) and Greg Bretz(USA).
With the night crisp and cold, the pipe was running fast and perfect. Riders were blasting huge airs off of their first hit and the post-Olympic double cork fever was definitely on!
Stale Sandbech was the first Oakley rider to drop, and this 16 year old from Norway was fresh off a trip to Vancouver for the Olympic Games and was ready to throw down. Comboing up a solid run of a huge air to fakie into solid spins, he capped his run with a massive frontside double cork that he just barely washed out on. At 16, Stale has the making of a serious halfpipe threat, but he would remain just outside of the qualification for the evening.
Next up were Greg Bretz and JJ Thomas, both former Olympians with two totally different styles. Bretz made a name for himself and the Olympic team with huge frontside double corks and comboing those into solid spins. Thomas on the other hand, puts together technically fluid spins with massive air. Thomas would drop into the pipe with some of the biggest amplitude of the night, including big backside 900’s and a signature addition, the McTwist to cap his run off. It would put him in 5th place, qualifying him to the finals.
Greg Bretz dropped into his first run and stomped a big frontside 1080 to get himself into a solid position for qualification, but going into his second and final run, he was just outside the bubble in 9th place. Dropping into his final run to qualify, Bretz needed to bump up one place to make it to the finals and on his second set up backside 720, he just washed out, ending his bid for the finals.
All in all it was a serious round of qualification and a great night for everyone, especially the crowd. A massive group had gathered at the bottom of the venue all day, with the kind of excitement that makes X Games the contest it is. More to come from Tignes, France, with Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle Finals and Men’s Superpipe Finals.