Winter X Games: Huttary, Lewan nab gold; Reggie Crist 2ndASPEN, Colorado – Mother nature had a few things to say about the schedule Sunday at X Games Ten. Six inches of snow had accumulated by 8 a.m., and it continued to snow hard all morning. This wreaked havoc with the first day of skiing medal rounds.
The skier X course was slower than it had been all week, but as every competitor noted, everyone was affected the same by the conditions. Women's skier X was a Euro fest. Austrian Karin Huttary, No. 1 in qualifying, continued her dominance into the finals and took gold.
Huttary was fast despite all the new snow on the course. "It was like racing on another course, my skis were slow and I was not making the jumps' she said.
She put on her race skis though, and clinched what for her is the biggest race of the year. 'We are doing the World Cup in Europe, but this is pretty much the biggest race of the year," she said. "It doesn't really matter what the rest of the season is like — ha ha — no, of course I will try to do my best in World Cup too.'
Rounding out the women's podium were Norway's Gro Kvinlog — say that three times fast — taking second, and Ophelia David of Alp d'Huez, France, in third.
Sweden's Lars Lewan took first in the men's finals, and echoed the importance of X Games to the Euro crowd. 'I am so excited right now, so happy. To me I can't compare it to winning a World Cup — this is really the biggest thing to win. Everyone is trying to be fast here, and you have all the Americans who don't come to World Cup' he said.
Sun Valley's Reggie Crist took silver, down from gold last year, but he was pleased with his result: 'For the past month, I've been nursing a deep bone bruise on my hip, and I've only skied five times in that time," he said. "So, for me to be able to come out and still be on my game is huge — I couldn't be happier.'
Crist was thinking he would be there mainly as moral support for his brother Zach, but was surprised by his own performance as he got into training. Chris Del Bosco of Vail, Colorado, took bronze, returning to X Games after a year absence. Del Bosco prepares his own equipment for racing, so it was a victory on many levels.
Men's ski slopestyle was abbreviated due to weather conditions. ESPN decided to convert the event to a single trick big air or 'skiing best trick' in X-speak. One competitor was heard saying, 'It's like 1998 man, they're gonna watch snowboard slope, and then see this and be like — what?' But most competitors accepted the rescheduling as part of life at a media-created event, despite having trained a whole bunch of rail and box tricks that they couldn't use. TJ Schiller grabbed gold, continuing his hot streak after throwing the first switch 1440 in competitive history last week.
Schiller topped a narrowly spaced podium with a switch 1080. 'That's my money trick, it's like a safety trick for me, I don't even want to do that trick anymore," he said. "I want to see a big slopestyle course next year, so we can do tons of tens (1080s). I mean we watched Shaun White (snowboard slope gold) do a 900 and three tens you're like â€˜holy crap' and now you watch skiing and these guys are throwing one ten off a jump . . . we can definitely show up, um, throw down just like the boarders. We had skiers in training doing corked 630s and 810s to the rail from the 40-foot gap. Snowboarders weren't doing that . . . it would have been off the hook.'
With second and third place also going to a switch 1080 with grab, the judging came down to some pretty minute criteria.
'I guess they looked for who held their grab the longest, and who didn't touch down on the landing' Schiller said.
Charles Gagnier of Quebec pushed Andres Hatveit out of second with a beautiful switch 1080 nose grab. Andreas Hatveit of Sweden was ecstatic with his bronze,
'I am probably the most stoked third place ever, that was my best switch 1080 ever, so I am super stoked' he said.
Despite the disappointment, the skiers were poised and professional, and with Schiller doling out the love to the â€˜boarders, we may have reached a new milestone in freeskiing.
Winter X Games results
Sunday, Jan. 29, 2006
Men's skier X
1. Lars Lewan – Stockholm, Sweden
2. Reggie Crist – Sun Valley, Idaho
3. Chris Del Bosco – Vail, Colorado
Women's skier X
1. Karin Huttary – Innsbruck, Austria
2. Gro Kvinlog – Hemsedal, Norway
3. Ophelia David – Alp d'Huez, France
Men's skiing best trick
1. TJ Schiller – Vernon, British Columbia
2. Charles Gagnier – Victoriaville, Quebec
3. Andreas Hatveit – Sudndalen, Norway
Saturday, Jan. 28
Women's snowboard superpipe
1. Kelly Clark Mount Snow , Vermont
2. Torah Bright Cooma, New South Wales, Australia
3. Soko Yamaoka Nagano, Japan