What to expect at Winter X Games

Story by Brian Gomez
The Gazette
January 27, 2011
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WINTER X GAMES REPORT: DAY 1

Coverage by Olympics beat writer Brian Gomez from Buttermilk Mountain in Aspen:

THURSDAY’S SCHEDULE

10 a.m. MST-noon MST: Men’s skiing slopestyle elimination

11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Snowmobile freestyle elimination

1-2 p.m. Women’s skiing slopestyle final

7-8 p.m. Snowmobile freestyle first round

7-8:30 p.m. Men’s snowboard superpipe elimination

8:30-9 p.m. Snowmobile freestyle final

9-9:40 p.m. Women’s skiing superpipe final

ON THE TUBE

10 a.m.-1 p.m. ESPN2

7-9 p.m. ESPN

REPRESENTING THE FRONT RANGE

Colorado residents competing Thursday:

Zack Black, Breckenridge (men’s snowboard superpipe)

Bobby Brown, Breckenridge (men’s skiing slopestyle)

Keri Herman, Breckenridge (women’s skiing slopestyle)

Gus Kenworthy, Telluride (men’s skiing slopestyle)

Matt Ladley, Steamboat Springs (men’s snowboard superpipe)

Meg Olenick, Aspen (women’s skiing slopestyle)

Anna Segal, Breckenridge (women’s skiing slopestyle)

J.J. Thomas, Breckenridge (men’s snowboard superpipe)

OUT OF ACTION

Injured competitors missing Winter X:

Dylan Bidez, snowboarding: Underwent knee surgery over the summer

Levi LaVallee, snowmobiling: Broke ribs and his pelvis and injured two lungs last month

Kevin Pearce, snowboarding: Underwent brain surgery in December 2009

T.J. Schiller, skiing: Tore two ligaments in his left knee last month

Tom Wallisch, skiing: Suffered a fractured left shoulder blade this month

YOU GOTTA CATCH THIS!

Tricks to watch on Buttermilk:

Gretchen Bleiler, snowboard superpipe: Back-to-back 900s

Simon Dumont, skiing superpipe, skiing big air: Switch double cork 1,080

Torstein Horgmo, snowboard slopestyle, snowboard big air: Triple cork 1,260

Louie Vito, snowboard superpipe: Back-to-back double cork 1,080s

Shaun White, snowboard superpipe: Double McTwist 1,260

HUDAK AIMING FOR HISTORY

Jen Hudak believes she has the tools to defend her Winter X skiing superpipe title. And she’s toying with the possibility of attempting a 1,080 — a jump with three rotations that never has been performed by a women’s superpipe skier on Buttermilk Mountain.

Three-time Winter X champion Sarah Burke and Megan Gunning, both of Canada, have executed 1,080s in competition, although neither will attempt them in Aspen — Burke was cleared to jump only a month ago after shoulder surgery, and Gunning is sidelined as she recovers from knee surgery. The trick isn’t in the books for Canadian Roz Groenewoud, who is using new equipment, or Swiss skier Mirjam Jaeger, who is fighting back pain.

"It’s something I would like to be able to do and land and do well with it," Hudak said of the 1,080. "I feel like if I do it, and I don’t do well with it, then who cares if you did it?"

FLYING TOMATO TRACKER

Two-time defending Olympic halfpipe gold medalist Shaun White hits Buttermilk for the first time Thursday in the snowboard superpipe elimination round, in which eight of 16 riders advance to Sunday’s finals. Each competitor takes two runs, with the best score counting.

As always, the line of contenders hoping to take down White will be stacked. The field is led by 2002 Olympic bronze medalist J.J. Thomas and Olympians Mason Aguirre, Scotty Lago, Louie Vito, Kazuhiro Kokubo of Japan and Iouri Podladtchikov of Switzerland.

"I’ve had enough practice time," said White, considering a double cork 1,080 in Sunday’s snowboard slopestyle finals. "I feel pretty confident to go out there and have some fun."

EYE ON: SNOWMOBILE FREESTYLE

Competitors: 12 in elimination round, eight advance to first round, four advance to final

Format: Riders flash their skills on 500-pound snowmobiles, with 75 seconds of jumps ranging from 65 to 100 feet. Judging is based on overall impression, trick execution, volume of tricks, use of course, landings and style.

Defending champion: Justin Hoyer. Recovered from a broken right arm and fractured left collarbone that he suffered in February but doesn’t have full movement in his right thumb. Planning an under-flip as his trademark maneuver in a revamped run.

Biggest challenger: Heath Frisby. Won his first Winter X gold last year, in the snowmobile best trick competition, along with his third bronze in snowmobile freestyle. Racing strong after a broken pelvis he suffered in May sidelined him for three months.

Don’t count out: Caleb and Colten Moore. The brothers made their Winter X debut last year with less than a month of training on sleds — Caleb won a bronze, and Colten went out in the first round. They hope extensive practice on ATVs pays dividends on the snow.

SEEN IN ASPEN

Two-time Olympic halfpipe medalist Hannah Teter and nine-time Winter X snowmobile SnoCross medalist Tucker Hibbert attended a kickoff party Wednesday at the St. Regis hotel. The three-hour event included a fashion show; musical performances; fireside food and drinks; and a silent auction. Proceeds from the night — admission was $100 at the door — benefited The V Foundation for Cancer Research and Boarding for Breast Cancer.

Brian Gomez

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