The 2013 edition of the Winter X Games has officially taken over Aspen, Colorado, thanks in large part to a statement performance by Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris.
In what is being built as a heavyweight championship bout — think Frazier vs. Ali, LeBron against Kobe magnitude — the 19-year-old McMorris finds himself defending his gold medal crown in slopestyle against the legendary Shaun White, a global snowboarding superstar who has electrified fans around the world for a greater part of the last decade.
White vs. McMorris: Round 1
Taking down White is no easy task, especially when you take into consideration that he has 12-career gold medals at the Winter X Games, including five in slopestyle. Yet, McMorris came out swinging in the qualifications of the Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle Eliminations on Thursday.
McMorris, who hails from Regina, Saskatchewan, stomped several big tricks, including a cab double 900, frontside double 1080, double wildcat, and backside double 1080, on his way to posting the No. 1 qualification score with an 88.66. Here’s video of his first run.
White came out looking to match McMorris, but ended up hand-touching on a couple of landings after throwing down a massive backside 1080. The two-time Olympic gold medalist finished with a 67.33, good enough for seventh place, and a spot in Saturday’s final at Buttermilk Mountain. Watch White’s response to McMorris in his first run of the day.
Now let’s check out who else rose to the occasion in day one.
Levi LaVallee, or Launchin’ Levi as his friends like to call him, took home the title in the Snowmobile Freestyle Final after posting a score of 89.00. Here’s his gold-medal winning run.
Alexander the Great conquered the modern world, Napolean Bonaparte ruled the battlefield, and freestyle skier David Wise dominated Men’s Ski SuperPipe. The team USA star wowed the crowd at Buttermilk Mountain all afternoon with a dazzling arsenal of tricks. Wise’s best run of the day included a combination of a rightside 7, switch double, rightside 9, double cork 12, and an alley-oop flatpspin 5.
White is a rock star, there is no doubt about it. However, he was outshone again on this day as Iouri Podladtchikov finished a spot ahead of him in Men’s Snowboard SuperPipe Eliminations. The 24-year-old Swiss native edged out White with a run score of 87.33.
Honorable Mention: Ayumu Hirano of Japan is 14 and threw down a double cork in his first run of the day. The eight-grader is the youngest athlete competing at the X Games.
In addition to McMorris, French Canadian Sebastien Toutant also competed in the Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle Eliminations. However, he wasn’t able to crake a spot in the necessary top eight after failing to put together two consistent runs. Toutant, a silver medalist in Snowboard Big Air at the 2011 X Games, finished with a score of 43.66.
Mike Riddle and Noah Bouman failed to advance past the elimination round of the Men’s Ski SuperPipe. Bourman barely missed the top eight as he finished in ninth place with a score of 70.66, just behind freestyle ski legend Simon Dumont who nailed down the final spot with a 72.66. Riddle finished a disappointing 14th with a score of 34.66.
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