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Ski images from day 3 X Games, Aspen Colorado
NEWS

Day 3 of X Games Aspen

Feb 012021

X Games Aspen 2021 is officially a wrap! The 20th consecutive X Games in the heart of the Rocky Mountains showcased the world’s best winter action sports from Friday to Saturday at Buttermilk Mountain in Aspen Snowmass.

On the third and final day of X Games Aspen 2021, Monster Energy athletes claimed 9 medals, including four gold medals in a number of history-making performances.

First X Games rookie to win Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle gold? That’s Dusty Henricksen! First Snowboard Big Air Medal for Jamie Anderson? You bet! And how about Yuto Totsuka finally claiming his first Men’s Snowboard SuperPipe gold and Henrik Harlaut winning Ski Knuckle Huck? That also happened!

Presented by Monster Energy as the long-time energy drink partner, X Games Aspen 2021 awarded medals in 14 events across freeski and snowboard disciplines. Contested amid strict Covid-19 safety protocols, the event was closed to the public without the usual spectators and musical performances on site. But fans across the world tuned in by the millions: X Games Aspen 2021 was streamed live on ESPN’s U.S.-based media platforms and televised globally in 192 countries and territories to more than 500 million homes.

After several events on Saturday had to be postponed until Sunday because of inclement weather, the third and final day presented a stacked schedule with some of the most high-profile action in event history. Here’s how the Monster Energy team’s medal run unfolded on Sunday:

 

Under blue skies on Buttermilk Mountain, the Jeep Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle final saw ten of the world’s best freestyle snowboarders battle for highest run score in a 25-minute jam session. When all was said and done, 17-year-old Dusty Henricksen from Mammoth Lakes, California, clinched the win in his X Games debut.

 

Did we mention that no rookie had ever won Snowboard Slopestyle on their first X Games? Somebody forgot to tell Dusty. After already taking gold in Friday night’s Knuckle Huck competition, the X Games rookie came into the Slopestyle final with the swagger of a seasoned veteran.

 

Wearing a short-sleeved T-shirt on a 27-degree day and snow pants adorned with patches from iconic punk rock bands, Henricksen made a strong opening statement by landing a technical first run that sent him straight to second place on the leaderboard. But he kept a few extra tricks in his back pocket…

 

On his second run, Dusty Henricksen turned up the heat significantly. In the rail section, he landed high-tech moves such as 50-50 nose blunt pretzel, Cab 270 back lip, and 270 to noseblunt fakie. Coasting into the jump section riding backwards, Henricksen sent a switch backside 1260 – a brand-new trick for him – followed by a backside double grab 1440, as well as frontside double cork 900 melon and Cab 900 on the quarter pipe obstacles.

 

Henricksen not only became the first rookie to win Slopestyle gold. He’s also the first American rider to win Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle since Shaun White’s victory at X Games Aspen 2009. 

 

“I’m tripping still. It doesn’t feel real yet. I feel like I’m going to wake up soon. I’m pretty speechless, honestly. Thank you guys so much!” said Monster Energy’s Dusty Henricksen upon taking Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle gold on Sunday.

 

Here’s another Slopestyle shocker: Monster Energy’s Rene Rinnekangas from Iisalmi, Finland, found his groove in the final and took home a well-deserved bronze medal. Rene worked the rail section with back-to-back tech moves, including a fast lipslide tap, frontside blunt pretzel, backside blunt 270, and Cab 270 boardslide fakie before hitting the jump section with a Cab backside 1080 nosegrab, backside 1440, switch backside double rodeo tailgrab and double crippler Indy over the quarter pipe. He now owns three X Games medals (1 gold from Real Snow, 1 silver, 1 bronze).

 

Switching gears into freeski, the Jeep Men’s Ski Slopestyle Final went off smoothly amid blue skis and perfect course conditions. But nevertheless, the skate-inspired course was one of the most technical ever. Especially the challenging combination of two quarter pipe obstacles at the bottom that required a sideways approach and gave many riders trouble.

 

Turns out, this kind of course proved the perfect match for Monster Energy team rider Ferdinand Dahl. The 22-year-old from Oppegaard, Norway, finessed a switch bash off the wallride, 270 on the kink rail, and a stunning pole jam underflip to fakie. Heading into the jump section backwards, he sent a huge switch leftside 1260, rightside double bio Japan grab, alley-oop 720 over the hip and switch rightside double bio for a strong silver medal finish (his second X Games medal).

 

Closely following behind, Monster Energy’s Evan McEachran maintained a Top 3 spot throughout the final on the strength of his impeccable rail game, supplemented by controlled aerial moves. The 23-year-old from Ochran, Canada, hit the rails with switch up to 270 out, switch 270 on to 270 out on the rainbow, and switch up 450 to fakie. In the jump section, he landed switch left double 1260 tail, switch rightside double 1440, rightside double cork and leftside double cork for the bronze medal.

Next up, the Pacifico Women's Snowboard Big Air Final defied all previous expectations. That’s because the oldest competitor, 30-year-old Jamie Anderson from Lake Tahoe, California, put on a masterclass in style and consistency. After already winning Friday’s Slopestyle gold, Anderson skipped most of the Big Air practice and went into the final with an open mind – and a bag full of heavy tricks.

 

In her signature effortless style, Anderson started her final with a Cab double 900 Weddle grab as her first trick. From there, the two-time Olympic medalist raised the difficulty with back-to-back perfect tricks, including a frontside double cork 1080 on Run 2 for 44 points and a highly technical Cab backside double cork 1080 on Run 3 for 45 points. With an overall score of 89 points, Anderson earned her very first gold medal in Big Air, joining her two bronze medals in the event.

 

“Oh, my… Coming out here today, I knew I just wanted to get my front 10 and Cab 10. I knew some of the girls were sending it. I think it just took consistency, trying to be clean and having fun with it,” said Monster Energy’s Jamie Anderson upon taking Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle gold in Aspen on Sunday.

 

Jamie Anderson was already the most decorated woman in X Games history coming into Sunday’s Big Air. Now the legacy grows to 19 medals total (8 gold, 7 silver, 4 bronze). Anderson also broke new ground as the very first woman snowboarder to compete in Snowboard Knuckle Huck at X Games Aspen 2021 on Friday.

 

Joining Anderson on the Big Air podium, Monster Energy’s Zoi Sadowski-Synnott had to battle for her spot, but persistence paid off. Straight out the gate, the 19-year-old from Wanaka, New Zealand, lost the handle on her first air across the 70-foot gap. But she showed nerves and recovered by landing a fast-spinning frontside 1080 lien grab for 44 points in Run 2.

 

After striking out again on Run 3, Sadowski-Synnott sealed her podium finish with a massive backside 1080 Weddle grab on her fourth attempt, bringing her total score to 86 points for the bronze medal.

 

“To get on the podium was amazing because of how high the level of Big Air is right now,” said Zoi Sadowski-Synnott upon taking Big Air bronze on Sunday. The rookie also owns two X Games Slopestyle gold medals, and five medals in total (2 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze).

 

When nighttime rolled around, Monster Energy Men's Snowboard SuperPipe was dominated by an epic showdown: Defending SuperPipe gold medalist Scotty James from Australia against 19-year-old Monster Energy team rider Yuto Totsuka from Yokohama, Japan.

 

At X Games Aspen 2020, it was Scotty James who kept the upper hand as Totsuka walked away with his second X Games silver medal. But the tide has been turning in the biggest rivalry in competitive snowboarding at the moment. Totsuka emerged ahead of James on their two most recent outings, the 2020 U.S. Open and Laax Open 2021.

 

Now the X Games crown was at stake. And things got real.

 

Right on his first run, Totsuka fired off a string of airs for the books: A massive frontside double cork 1440 Weddle at 13'5" altitude followed by back-to-back 1260, 1080 and 900, plus a frontside double cork 1260 blasted 16'8" high on the last wall.

 

But dropping in right behind the Japanese halfpipe phenom, Scotty James responded with higher airs and more technical rotations, bumping Totsuka down to second place.

 

The tension in the air was palpable as Totsuka opened Run 2 with even higher altitude on the opening 1260 but lost the handle on his run. Bummer. What’s more, rookie pro Ruka Hirano used his second run to edge ahead, bumping Totsuka to third place. And with that, the competition got even realer.

 

Yuto Totsuka responded by firing off a frontside double cork 1440 Weddle grab, followed by a Cab double cork 1260 into a switch frontside double cork 1080 Indy, backside double cork 1260 and frontside double cork 1260 on the last wall. The sheer technicality, flawless execution, and height in the constant 13- to 16-foot range earned Yuto Totsuka his first-ever SuperPipe gold at X Games.

 

Known as one of the pacesetters of halfpipe snowboarding’s evolution, Yuto Totsuka’s record expands to three X Games medals (1 gold, 2 silver). The two-time Japanese national halfpipe champion has also earned FIS World Cup Crystal Globe wins in 2018 and 2019, as well as the coveted 2020 U.S. Open title.

 

The snowboard air show continued with the highly anticipated The Real Cost Men’s Snowboard Big Air Final. As a worthy finale to the snowboard action at X Games Aspen 2021, the 30-minute jam session raised the bar in terms of trick difficulty and consecutive rotations in competitive snowboarding.

 

It took only a few runs for the contest to escalate. The eight riders in the final began spinning 1800-degree rotation, multiple corks and diverse grabs left and right. Scores soon settled in the upper 40s, with 50 being the highest score for a single run. In other words, an elite and intimidating final session unfolded.

 

But not too intimidating for Monster Energy’s Sven Thorgren!  

 

Stacking difficult tricks with style and consistency, the 26-year-old from Stockholm, Sweden, held his ground in the final. Thorgren launched a Cab 1620 over the 70-foot gap to set his night on a strong foundation with 44 points (out of 50). With fellow Swede Marcus Kleveland taking the lead, Thorgren followed up by ways of a flat-spin backside 1800 melon for 48 points, taking over the third-place position.

 

When the action moved on to final attempts, Thorgren found himself taking the very last run of the entire night. And he had just the trick to boost his score: A perfectly executed Cab 1800 roast beef earned him 47 points and the silver medal with a total score of 95.00 points. Known for his video edits with the Scandalnavians crew, Thorgren now owns seven X Games medals (1 gold, 2 silver, 4 bronze).  

 

All snowboard action officially in the books, the only thing left to do at Buttermilk Mountain was close out the weekend with a fan-favorite event: Wendy’s Ski Knuckle Huck. Contested for the second time at X Games, the free-flowing contest is focused on technical and stylish moves off the Slopestyle jump ramp’s roll-over, also called the ‘knuckle’.

 

With eight of the world’s most gifted freeskiers in the mix, every possible trick was in the cards on Sunday night: Nose and tail presses, butters, slides across the knuckle, and explosive spin moves popped out far down the landing. But then again, in the 20-minute jam session judged on overall impression, there could only be one winner (no silver or bronze medals awarded).

 

Standouts of the huck fest included defending gold medalist Colby Stevenson with a 360 butter to 900 off into the landing. Also, Monster team rider Quinn Wolferman, who showcased a nollie pop 360 butter to ollie 540 out. Norwegian upstart Ferdinand Dahl brought out consistent bangers, including nose butter across the flat section to 540 out and a stylish hand drag to underflip.

 

New Zealand’s very own Jossi Wells returned to competition with high-speed moves off the knuckle, including switch 360 nosebutter 360, and a signature fakie no-spin air for the true fans. But at the end of the night, the golden knuckles medal could only go to one rider: 29-year-old freeski icon and Monster Energy athlete Henrik Harlaut from Sweden.

 

After missing a podium spot in Friday’s Ski Big Air final, Harlaut went into the Knuckle Huck as unfazed and creative as ever. The Henrik Harlaut show was in full swing, as the most decorated ski athlete in X Games history went to work on the knuckle, flexing the tips and tails of his skis through the most creative moves of the night. Standouts such as 540 nose butter to 360 out, backside 360 to fakie butter to 360 off the tail and a smooth Cab butter to switch 540 left the judges no choice but hand the gold medal to Henrik Harlaut.

 

Sunday night’s Knuckle Huck gold expands Henrik Harlaut’s legacy as the most medal-winning ski athlete in X Games history with thirteen medals to his name (8 gold, 5 silver).

 

With that said, this wraps up an epic Winter X Games in Aspen with an incredible bounty of 14 medals for team Monster Energy (7 Gold, 4 Silver, 3 Bronze). Thanks to all athletes, everyone who attended and all who watched for a history-making event!

 

Also major thanks to the team at ESPN and Buttermilk Mountain for putting on a world-class event despite the adversities of the ongoing pandemic. And big thanks to all who tuned in to watch a history-making chapter of Winter X Games!

 

Missed the live stream today? X Games fans in the United States who missed the action at X Games Aspen 2021 can re-watch all live broadcasts on the official X Games YouTube channel. All the highlights from X Games Aspen 2021 will be broadcast on ABC in a two-piece anthology: X Games Aspen Anthology: Part 1 will air on Saturday, February 7, at 3 p.m. ET, followed by Part 2 on February 14 at 3 p.m. ET.

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