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Image assets from Day 1 from the Snowboard Knuckle Huck on 2021 X Games Aspen Colorado.
NEWS

Day 1 of X Games Aspen

Jan 302021

It’s good to be back! X Games Aspen 2021 kicked off on Buttermilk Mountain on Friday with a full dose of freeski and snowboard events – and Monster Energy athletes took top spots in key disciplines.

Presented by Monster Energy as the official drink partner of X Games, the 20th consecutive X Games in Aspen is here to stoke fans with premium action sports from Friday to Sunday. The biggest names in action sports are competing in Big Air, Slopestyle, SuperPipe, and Knuckle Huck disciplines. Overall, X Games Aspen 2021 features more than 80 elite skiers and snowboarders from 16 countries in 14 medal events.

After the pandemic shut down most big events in 2020, athletes are stoked to return to the international spotlight. But there’s a catch: In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, X Games Aspen 2021 is closed to the public without the usual spectators and musical performances on site. Nevertheless, the level of riding was more evolved than ever, as viewers across the globe watched the action unfold in Friday’s live broadcasts.

The biggest stage in action sports is also using innovative technology to bring fans closer to the action. A brand-new virtual experience, X Fest, offers fans at home a chance to win prizes, play games, and connect with X Games sponsors. No downloads required; everything happens in your browser. You can customize your avatar and pop over to Monster Energy’s igloo-themed Chill Media Zone to watch video content Zone at X Fest

Also make sure to catch the live action on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and X Games digital platforms, because it’s off the charts this year. Starting the weekend on a strong note, Monster Energy athletes swooped up podium spots in three of Friday’s events, claiming two gold and two silver medals. Here’s the play-by-play of how it went down at X Games Aspen 2021.

Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle

Starting things off with a bang, the Jeep Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle final saw Monster Energy’s Jamie Anderson successfully defend her gold medal from X Games Aspen 2020 against an elite field. In a 35-minute jam session, the eight finalists were looking to score their best runs, but the stakes were high.

 

The course was more challenging and technical than ever with the addition of two quarter pipe transition obstacles at the bottom. Plus, overcast skies created challenging light conditions, especially on big jumps.

 

As riders struggled to complete flawless runs, Jamie Anderson cemented her victory on her first run: The two-time Olympic gold medalist worked the rail section with a backside lipslide the long rail, tailslide fakie the rainbow rail and gap-out Cab 270 to backside lipslide fakie the kinked rail. Blasting into the jump section, she spun a massive Cab double underflip 900 Weddle, frontside 540 truck driver, switch backside 180 Indy, and alley-oop backside 720 stalefish over the transition hip.

 

Taking her last run as a victory lap – and throwing in a backside rodeo 540 stalefish for good measure – Jamie Anderson claimed her seventh Slopestyle gold at X Games.

 

“Honestly, I’m speechless! I’m so proud of all the girls and grateful to still be here. Huge thanks to ESPN and all my sponsors for helping me be able to do what I love,” said Jamie Anderson upon winning Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle gold in Aspen on Friday.

 

Jamie Anderson now owns 18 medals total (7 gold, 7 silver, 4 bronze) and is single-handedly the most decorated woman in snow sports. And here’s some trivia: Anderson is now the oldest Snowboard Slopestyle gold medalist (male or female) at age 30 and also remains the youngest woman Snowboard Slopestyle gold medalist (age 16, 2007) in X Games history.  

 

Anderson’s biggest threat in Friday’s final was her Monster Energy teammate Zoi Sadowski-Synnott. The 19-year-old rookie from Wanaka, New Zealand, came in as a major contender after taking Slopestyle gold at X Games Norway 2020. She attacked the skateboard-inspired course with technical tricks but needed a big finish after remaining stuck in third place.

 

Sadowski-Synnott found it on her fourth and final run: In the rail section, she dropped a 50-50 to boardslide transfer, lipslide to fakie, and switch front boardslide 270 out. When it was time to go big in the jump section, she sent a massive switch backside 900 Indy, backside 900 Weddle, Cab 540 underflip, and ultra-slowly rotated crippler over the final transition obstacle to bump into silver medal position. 

 

Hailed as one of the drivers of snowboarding’s progression, Zoi Sadowski-Synnott now owns four X Games medals (2 gold, 2 silver). Named ‘Rookie of the Year’ in the 2020 Snowboarder Magazine Awards, she made history by winning Slopestyle bronze at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, ending New Zealand’s 26-year medal drought and becoming a national hero. On Saturday, Sadowski-Synnott is headed into the Women’s Snowboard Big Air final fresh off a win at the 2021 FIS World Cup Big Air season opener in Kreischberg, Austria.

 

Missing the podium on Friday, Japanese snowboard wunderkind Kokomo Murase did not find the run she wanted. The owner of five X Games medals at only 16 years of age put down solid runs with boardslide 270 and switch blunt same way in the rail section. Her runs also featured clean Cab 900 tailgrabs and frontside 900s in the jump section. But the bronze medal winner from X Games Aspen 2020 could not get a handle on her final backside 900 over the hip and had to settle for fifth place.

 

Snowboard Knuckle Huck

The nighttime action at X Games Aspen 2021 started with a fan favorite event: Wendy’s Snowboard Knuckle Huck. Dedicated to fun and creativity, the 20-minute jam session is judged on overall impression. Riders ‘huck’ technical and stylish moves off the Slopestyle jump ramp’s roll-over, also called the ‘knuckle’.

 

In previous years, the huck fest was an all-boys club – but that changed on Friday night! Monster Energy’s Jamie Anderson made history as the first woman to compete in Snowboard Knuckle Huck at X Games. The snowboard icon showed that she can slide and butter with the best of them, putting on a consistent show including butter 180 hand drag to backside 360, hand drag backside 540, and switch butter 180 to switch 180 out.

 

Further standouts included Japanese upstart Ryo Aizawa using the course in the most unpredictable ways, as well as Sebbe de Buck from Belgium nailing a stalefish Miller flip hand drag.

 

As the trick level escalated in the free-flowing session, one rider stole the show in his X Games debut: 17-year-old Dusty Henricksen from Mammoth Lakes, California. Bringing the heat straight out the gate, Dusty sent fakie pop underflip, Cab 180 tail press into a front flip, fakie nose-press nollie Cab 540 underflip, and a stylish layback hand drag to pretzel backside 180 over the knuckle to convince the judges.

 

The X Games rookie claimed gold – a stylized brass knuckle chain – in the winner-takes-all event. Friday’s gold marks the first X Games medal for Dusty Henricksen, who turned heads in 2020 with his surprise Slopestyle win at the U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain and stomped a never-been-done backside quad cork 1800 at the U.S. Open. Better watch out, the competition might also get “dusted” in Snowboard Slopestyle and Big Air when Dusty returns.

Women’s Ski SuperPipe

Capping off a big first day for Monster Energy at X Games Aspen 2021, the Women’s Ski SuperPipe final saw seven of the world’s best freestyle skiers attacking the 600-foot-long halfpipe and its 22-foot-high walls. In a big change of rules, riders were no longer judged on overall impression, but on their single best run in the 35-minute jam session.

 

Monster Energy’s Cassie Sharpe came into the final looking to improve on her bronze medal from X Games Aspen 2020. The reigning gold medalist, Finland’s Kelly Sildaru, was sidelined from competition, but Sharpe found herself going head-to-head with a new contender, 17-year-old X Games rookie Eileen Gu from China.

 

With Gu taking the lead on her first run, Sharpe gave chase with a solid first run and proceeded to increase the trick difficulty. On her second run, the 28-year-old from Comox, Canada, unveiled a brand-new leftside 1260 air blasted 10’9” high. She followed up with a corked 900 tailgrab, into a corked leftside 540, air to fakie, switch left 360, stylish flair and a fully inverted 1080 on the last wall.

 

Still, in second place, Sharpe was ready to up the ante on her third run. But unfortunately, her routine was cut short by a heavy fall on the opening 1260 air, forcing Sharpe to withdraw from the competition and settle for the silver medal.

 

Cassie Sharpe is the reigning Olympic champion and now owns five X Games medals (2 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze). Known for her near-perfect record, she has reached the podium at 14 of 15 halfpipe events since December 2017. In 2020, the younger sister of Monster team rider Darcy Sharpe claimed back-to-back halfpipe wins at the U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain and Winter Dew Tour Copper Mountain.

 

Also putting on a strong show in Friday’s SuperPipe final, Olympic silver medalist Devin Logan from Vermont landed some of the night’s biggest aerials. A high-flying 900, big leftside 540, and rightside 540 tailgrab and switch 720 at the bottom earned a fifth-place finish for the 27-year-old who already owns two X Games medals.

 

Speaking of medals, stay tuned for more winter sports action as Day Two of X Games Aspen features a heavy roster including Women's Ski Slopestyle, Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle, Women’s Snowboard Big Air, Men’s Ski Big Air, and the highly anticipated return of Monster Energy’s Chloe Kim to Women’s Snowboard SuperPipe.

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