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Crowd Favorite Shaun White who placed fifth in Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle redeemed himself by winning his sixth consecutive X Games Gold Medal in Halfpipe. His signature backside air on his first hit boosted an awe inspiring 24-foot 1 inches out of the pipe, breaking his own record by a foot. His next hits were back-to-back double 1080s into a cork 5 followed by a double Mctwist 1260 and finished off with a frontside double 1260. This run scored him a near perfect 98 points.
Shortly before the competition, swiss snowboarder Iouri Podladtchikov pulled out due to illness. Podladtchikov won qualifications and may have been White’s biggest threat in tonight’s competition. “He texted me and apologized before the event.” White said about Podladtchikov’s absence. “I know how hard it is to have to drop out, I like riding with Iouri. He pushes me.” He added.
Although the Swiss threat was unavailable to compete against Shaun,14 year old X Games rookie Ayumu Hirano won silver with a 92.33. The Japanese native impressed the judges with huge amplitude and his smooth front and cab 1080’s. Hirano completed front and back 900’s then finished his run with his only double; a double cork 1080.
Hirano is the youngest person to ever win a winter X Games medal. “this was my first X games, and I am just here to have fun” Hirano replied to a question about his experience here in aspen.
“6 Years, it’s crazy” White said about his 6th gold medal in a row, “It feels good, I don’t think I have ever been more focused or in tune of what I’m doing, I will probably be more uncomfortable when I’m going for my seventh” he joked.
On the womens side 29-year-old Kelly Clark from USA was able to squeeze ahead of USA’s Elena Hight by only .33 to take the gold in her third run.
Hight broke records tonight by landing the first ever backside ally-oop double rodeo 900 which put her in first place for a majority of the event until she was over taken by Clark. Clark’s run consisted of a massive frontside 1080 to a cab 720 to a frontside 900. Her run was highlighted by her boosting some 14 feet out of the Halfpipe.
“It’s amazing being here and claiming gold for the third time in a row.” Said Clark. “I only won by a small margin, but tonight was not about my win, it was what Elena has done for Women’s Snowboarding, I’m so proud of her.” She added.
Colorado’s own Arielle Gold walked away with a bronze for her frontside 900, backside 540 to frontside 540 and a frontside 720 to a cab 900. This was the 16 year olds first X Games; she was only put in the competition after Gretchen Bleiler pulled herself out due to medical reasons. With this spot on the podium, Arielle will maintain her top spot on the World Snowboard Tour rankings for Women’s halfpipe.
Now that the 6Star rated X Games has come to an end riders will be heading to Park City to compete in the 5Star Sprint US Grand Prix where they will be able to collect valuable World Snowboard Tour points and Olympic qualifying points at the same event.
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