Winter X Games 15 festivities officially commenced with the first medal ceremony on Thursday, where Red Bull’s own Kaya Turski and Grete Eliassen repeated their podium performances from 2010 in Women’s Ski Slopestyle.
Grete scooped up her second consecutive bronze, her sixth WXG medal overall. She sat in the silver medal position until late in the event, while Turski led from her first run with authority to successfully defend her gold.
The men also had a crack at Ski Slopestyle on Thursday, with the elimination round narrowing the field from 16 to 8 for Saturday’s final. Red Bull skiers Russ Henshaw, Elias Ambuhl and Bobby Brown were on the roster, and all three made the cut.
Henshaw posted a solid first-run score to sit in second after the first round of runs were complete, then shot into the lead with his second run. No one else was able to match his performance, which included a rightside double cork 1260 mute grab, so Russ will head into the final in the hot seat.
Elias had some trouble in run one, so he made run two count with tricks like a 450 off the rainbow rail and a switch double 1260. He qualified in the 7th spot. With a bronze earned in Big Air at WXG 2010, Elias has proven he can throw down at a big event, and he’ll now have two more chances in Slopestyle and Big Air here in 2011.
The heavily-favored Brown didn’t get off the ground the way everyone expected, with his first two runs failing to live up to his normally stellar level. He suffered a less-than-perfect landing in run one and a mistake in the upper rail section ended his second run early, adding plenty of drama to the defending gold-medalist’s X Games story.
Of course, he pulled it together in run three to slip into the 5th place transfer spot, and will also join Russ and Elias in both the Big Air and Slopestyle events on Saturday.
Another Top Performance for Shaun White
Shaun White probably didn’t surprise many in the crowd by taking the number one spot in the SuperPipe elimination round; after all, he’s won the event for the last three years running, and five times overall. He switched things up on his two runs and included back-to-back double cork 1080s in run two.
This is his first contest since the Olympics in February 2010, but he looks as solid as ever, and has also returned to Slopestyle this year. If he makes the cut at Friday’s prelims, he’ll have the chance to score double gold on Sunday to close out Winter X.
Unfortunately, Iouri Podladtchikov, who many look to as Shaun’s biggest competition at the moment, went down in practice just before the prelims started and injured his shoulder, forcing him to withdraw. Iouri was striving for gold this year after earning silver in 2010, so it’s a shame we’ll miss what surely would have been an incredible showdown. Get well soon, Iouri!
Daniel Bodin Breaks the Curse
Finally, Sweden’s Daniel Bodin got the X Games medal monkey off his back in the best way possible, ending a streak of four consecutive fourth-place finishes in Snowmobile Freestyle by jumping all the way to gold. After injuries sidelined Levi LaVallee from WXG this year, he took Bodin under his wing, backing him on his own team and helping him train at his compound in Minnesota. The move obviously paid off.
Bodin attacked the course with tricks like superflip Indian airs, superman seat grab backflips, one-handed Hart Attacks, Cordova backflips and Tsunamis. He has a chance to keep his medal momentum going, as he’s on the roster for two more events at WXG, Speed & Style and Best Trick.
Not a bad haul for day one, not bad at all. There are three more days of competition left, so check out the broadcast schedule and tune in to see your favorite Red Bull athletes help push the progression of winter action sports.
Friday’s WXG Events:
- Snowboard Slopestyle Men Elimination (Shaun White, Sebastien Toutant, Mark McMorris, Marko Grilc)
- Skier X Qualifying (Daron Rahlves, Tomas Kraus)
- Snowmobile Speed & Style (Daniel Bodin)
- Snowboard Best Method (Greg Bretz)
- Snowboard Big Air (Sebastien Toutant, Mark McMorris, Marko Grilc)
Check the broadcast schedule to catch all of the Winter X action.
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