Keep claiming that precious metal! On the second day of X Games Aspen 2023, the Monster Roster claimed 6 medals: 2 gold, 1 silver, and 3 bronze across all five events contested on Buttermilk Mountain in Aspen Snowmass, Colorado this Saturday.
Here’s how it all went down for the team at X Games Aspen 2023 on Saturday:
CHALLENGING CONDITIONS: Ten of the world’s best riders came to Aspen with dreams of throwing down their most progressive, never-been-done tricks on the Slopestyle course. But overcast skies, constant snowfall, and slow riding shifted the focus to landing not the best, but the best-possible run under these conditions.
STEVENSON SENDS IT FOR GOLD: Rising to the challenge, Colby Stevenson put down a full pull on his first attempt to take the top spot. On Run 2, the Team USA skier dialed up the difficulty to seal the deal: backside 360 switch up continuing 270, rightside 450 pretzel 270, switch leftside 270 backslide to switch, switch rightside 270 backside continuing 270, rightside double 900 Japan, switch leftside double 1080 safety, switch rightside double 1260 safety, and left double 1620 stalefish earned Stevenson his second Slopestyle gold.
BREAKING THE ROOKIE CURSE: Stevenson made history as the first X Games rookie to win Men’s Ski Slopestyle gold, plus Knuckle Huck gold, when he stormed in Aspen 2020. But since then,… no more podiums at X Games! Rookie curse? Sophomore jinx? Whatever it was, it ended when Stevenson got back on that podium with Knuckle Huck bronze on Friday and added gold this Saturday. He’s back!
Stevenson now owns 4 X Games medals: 3 gold, 1 bronze.
FERDINAND DAHL POWERS TO BRONZE: When the going got tough, Ferdinand Dahl from Oppegaard, Norway, showed his grit. The Norwegian rallied to get not one, but two full pulls and spun in all four directions on jumps and rails. He even briefly bumped Stevenson from the top spot on his second attempt. Ultimately, he walked away with the bronze medal.
Despite the snow, Dahl hit the course with left lipslide 450 to forward, rightside flair 450, switch leftside 270 to switch, switch rightside 270 tips down continuing 450, switch leftside ally-oop bio 1080 blunt grab, switch rightside bio alley-oop double cork 1260 safety, left double bio 1080 safety, and right double bio safety 1440 for third place.
Dahl now owns 3 X Games medals: 1 silver, 2 bronze.
INFLUENCED BY A LEGEND: Although the ‘Queen of the Superpipe’ Chloe Kim is taking a competition break after winning Olympic gold in Beijing, her presence loomed over the Women’s Snowboard SuperPipe final: That’s because she sent her protegee, 14-year-old halfpipe phenom Gaon Choi from Seoul, South Korea. The two have been training together since 2018, and it shows!
GAON CHOI: Undeterred by the fact that she entered X Games Aspen 2023 as the youngest competitor, Choi proceeded to etch her name into action sports history. In the jam session judged on overall impression, the rookie took the lead with a first run featuring two 720 rotations. But when American Maddie Mastro bumped to the top by posting a double crippler, Choi fired back by stacking her runs with next-level tricks.
In her third run, the teenage phenom cemented her victory by stringing together a switch backside 900 mute, Cab 720 melon, frontside 900 melon and backside stalefish 900 on the last wall. Her perfect fourth run shut down the competition once and for all.
MAKING X GAMES HISTORY: In her first time at X Games, Choi made history as the youngest Women’s Snowboard Superpipe gold medalist at age 14 years, 2 months. The previous record was held by her mentor, Kim, who was 14 years and 8 months when she first won Superpipe at X Games Aspen 2015. Choi also sets the record as the first athlete from South Korea to claim gold at an X Games event. All other Korean medals were earned in climbing events in the 1990s.
Saturday’s gold marks Choi’s first X Games medal. The young upstart also won the 2022 World Junior Snowboarding Championships and was undefeated across four amateur-level halfpipe events on the 2022 FIS Revolution Tour. The future has arrived!
FROM ALTERNATE TO PODIUM: Everyone loves a good underdog story, and X Games Aspen never disappoints. Coming to Aspen as an alternate, Svea Irving from Winter Park, Colorado, was tapped at the last moment to ride in the final. But the Monster Army athlete ended up rising all the way to the podium in bronze position.
PUTTING IT DOWN ON THE LAST RUN: Irving made her X Games debut at Aspen 2022 and finished in seventh place. This year, she struggled to put a solid run down, but found her groove on the fourth and final attempt. Right when it counted, Irving sent a huge left alley-oop flatspin 540 Japan, left 900 safety, left alley-oop 360 safety, switch left 360 Weddle grab, right 540 safety, and left 540 safety for third place in stacked field.
Saturday’s bronze marks Irving’s first X Games medal. Her brother, Birk Irving, is a decorated freeskier, and Svea grew up riding moguls before switching to halfpipe at age 10. She has been part of Team USA Freeski since 2018.
THE STAKES ARE HIGH: As the defending Big Air and Slopestyle champion from X Games Aspen 2022, Zoi Sadowski-Synnott came to Aspen with a target on her back. While every rider was out to take her gold, the New Zealand ripper successfully defended her spot in Friday’s Slopestyle final. But trick levels in the Big Air final on Saturday night escalated, and the decision came down to one scoring point…
ZOI’S NEVER-BEEN-DONE TRICK: While Saturday’s halfpipe and slopestyle events were overshadowed by snowfall, the Big Air course ran like greased lightning. And the level was on fire: “Some of the greatest 1080s, 1260s underflips the sport has ever seen,” said commentator Tom Wallisch. With two riders throwing down history-making triple corks, Sadowski-Synnott had to pull out a never-been-done trick: On her second attempt, she posted a perfect switch backside 1260 to engrave the trick into X Games history – and earn a score of 44 points!
CLOSE CALL: Supplementing her score, she unleashed a backside 1260 melon grab for 42 points, bringing her total score to 86.00 points. When all was said and done, Sadowski-Synnott earned a strong silver medal finish behind Japan’s Reira Iwabuchi a single point ahead in first place with 87.00 points. Talk about a close call…
Sadowski-Synnott now owns 9 X Games medals: 5 gold, 3 silver, 1 bronze. In 2022, she earned Slopestyle gold and Big Air at the Beijing Olympics and was celebrated as New Zealand’s first Winter Olympics gold medalist.
FINALLY ARRIVED: The history-making feats kept coming in the Men’s Snowboard Big Air event under the floodlights. Stepping to the challenge, Chinese rookie Su Yiming from Jilin City, finally made his X Games debut. The young rider had been sidelined from competing at Aspen 2022 because of Covid-19 lockdown. This was the time to shine!
TOP-NOTCH TRICKS ONLY: True to the motto ‘go big or go home’, Yiming sent only his A-game tricks over the massive 70-foot jump. This kind of level takes a few attempts and misses. But putting it down when it counted, he blasted a frontside 1800 frontside grab – spinning five rotations – for 39.00 points to get a chance at reaching the podium.
Never one to play it safe, Yiming put everything on the line for a single trick that could catapult him to the Top 3. And it worked: On the final try, Yiming made history by putting down a clean backside quad cork 1980 Indy and clinch the bronze medal with a final score of 87.00 points.
MAKING HISTORY: Just like that, Yiming became the first male athlete representing China to claim a medal. He is already a national hero after taking the gold medal in Snowboard Big Air and the silver medal in Snowboard Slopestyle at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
Saturday’s bronze marks Yiming’s first X Games medal. Now, that’s how you debut at X Games!