Weeks are flying by and it seems like the start of winter has now been replaced with mid-winter storms and travels around the globe. January flew by with a couple of trips to Europe and a trip to Aspen for the ESPN Winter X Games.
The trip to Aspen proved to be quite the eye opener for me. Every year the level of riding progresses, and the X Games is definitely one of the contests that showcased this increase in performance. This year proved to be one of the most jaw dropping spectacles of them all in the women’s snowboarding events.
Watching the women at X Games was a testament that anything is possible. The women’s halfpipe final was the cherry on top at the weeklong competition. These girls showed that women’s snowboarding is gearing up to be one of the highlights of the circuit.
Torah Bright, Kelly Clark, and Gretchen Bleiler threw down in a night finals show like no other. All three ladies had extremely different runs, and all three deserved gold in my mind. Torah’s enormous technical run was laced with tricks like huge Mctwists, lofty and stylish air-to-fakies, cab 720s, and the ever-so-technical switch backside 720 to end her amazing runs. Kelly’s run demonstrated that the sky is the limit. She was blasting 15-foot airs with enormous 540 combos and a massive 900 at the bottom. Kelly even attempted some 1080s in the last two runs but couldn’t quite muscle out the landings. Power and speed set Kelly’s riding over the top.
Gretchen impressed with some amazing runs as well. She started off with huge 900s, jaw dropping cripplers, technical ally-oops, and finished with back-to-back 720s. WOW. This was definitely not a night to be a judge.
After much deliberation, Gretchen was crowned halfpipe queen that night. Torah ended up in second and Kelly took the bronze.
The women’s slopestyle was equally exciting to watch. Jamie Anderson was victorious with a stylish cab 720 over the last booter into the finish. B.C. girl Spencer O’Brien grabbed the bronze medal in that event.
The snowboardcross course proved once again to be a drafting and gliding race on Buttermilk Mountain — a course I couldn’t get the hang of to save my life. After barely qualifying for the finals I had my work cut out from the get-go. Last lane pick in a six-person start is not exactly ideal. I ended up doing okay off the start — actually it was the only part of the course that treated me with some respect.