Photo slideshow from Day 2 by Heather Rousseau, www.hroussear.com.
“You are just going so fast going backwards. I mean, f-that going forwards.”
That is a typical comment you hear around the Winter X Games venue at Buttermilk. Take away the hype and the sponsors, strip the sports to their bones and you have something that is very good at producing awe in just about anybody.
It’s a sight to behold as you approach Buttermilk, normally known around these parts as the bunny hill compared to the big mountain gnar of Aspen Highlands and Aspen Mountain. But come here during X Games, with the surface of the mountain covered in insane booters, and the symphony of athletes launching off them in early afternoon practice session looks like it should be in a science fiction movie where gravity is no longer a factor.
The comment referenced above was uttered during the men’s skiing big air finals, where athletes somewhere between speed skiers and gymnasts strait-line down a massive ramp built from a scaffolding tower over an 85 foot kicker. Many enter the jump riding switch, all the more impressive. The contest was won by Bobby Brown of Breckenridge, Colo. who threw a switch double misty flip 1440 — that’s two inverted aerials and four full rotations.
The move begs the question: How long until we start seeing a move of that caliber in the halfpipe?
At one point, the double cork 1080 flip was strictly the purview of big air competitors. Now you can’t get on the podium in the pipe without one.
“Everyone who is doing double corks right now has to say thank you to this guy,” said Iouri Podladtchiko, Friday night’s men’s snowboard superpipe silver medalist. “This guy” is of course Shaun White, who further cemented his legend with his third straight X Games superpipe gold. To do so, he had to land a 1260 double mctwist, a trick that he wiped out on during a practice run earlier that evening, causing his helmet to fly off and leaving him with a bruised jaw.
“We’re all trying to represent snowboarding at its best,” Podladtchikov said. “With the double cork it looks way better, don’t you think?”
Also Friday, Women’s skiing superpipe champion Sarah Burke, 27, of Whistler, saw her run of three straight gold medals in the superpipe end. Burke brought her trademark big air and ballsy repertoire of tricks, but couldn’t string together a clean lap. Instead, the sport crowned a new queen — Jen Hudak of Park City, who has been competing in X Games for six years and was last year’s silver medalist.