Sick, sick, sick, sick, sick. That’s the only way to describe the mad skills being thrown around in fabulous, sun-drenched Tignes on the last day of Winter X Games Europa 2010. Anybody who might have believed that the previous night’s performance by David Guetta or any one of a number of all-night ragers would slow the riders down was sadly mistaken as two events in particular, Men’s Skiing Slopestyle and Men’s Snowboarding Superpipe were just off-the-hook mind-blowing.
Men’s Skiing Slopestyle
Early on, the slopestyle course earned a reputation among riders as being long (eight booters, three rails) but small. Despite re-shaping the course three times during practice most of the snowboarders had a hard time getting the amplitude needed to boost their best maneuvers and do anything but 50-50 the rails.
For the skiers however it was different story. By the end of the third round most of the riders were spinning onto the first rail, flipping off the box and smoothly crushing the kickers. Take Tom Wallisch’s final run for example: backwards*** rightside 10, backwards 5, double cork 10, back 9, back 9 and a back double rodeo 10 off the money booter – all silky smooth, all cleanly stomped.
For some reason I can’t embed the video but you can see it here.
Gold Tom Wallisch (USA)
Silver Bobby Brown (USA)
Bronze Jossi Wells (NZL)
***[editor’s note: the ChamonixInsider refuses to apply the term ‘switch’ to skiing because it’s both ridiculously inaccurate and majorly insulting to both the skaters who developed the term and the skiers who deserve more credit. After all, skiing backwards is a helluva lot more difficult than riding switch). Thanks for listening. We take you now back to our regularly scheduled programming.] ***
Men’s Snowboarding Superpipe
The Men’s Snowboard Superpipe was every bit as amazing with iPod throwing down the coveted double McTwist 12 and Louie Vito busting three back-to-back double corkers. According to Vito this is the first time it has ever been done before in competition and many experienced riders were a little surprised it didin’t earn him the silver.
I mean seriously, wasn’t it just this summer that the double cork was first landed? And now it seems like every rider’s got one. It’s unbelievable how things have progressed in the past nine months.
Check out the video of iPod’s super smooth double McTwist-o-rama here.
Louie Vito’s three back-to-back double corks here.
Or watch the entire men’s superpipe extravaganza here.
Gold Iouri Podlatchikov (SUI)
Silver Matthieu Crepel (FRA)
Bronze Louie Vito (USA)
So if you’re inspired by all this, Tignes wants everyone to know that they’ll continue maintain the XGames slopestyle course for the next two months. In addition, they have added a FlyingTomato-style XBag to the pipe to allow riders to practice those double corks without killing themselves.
And if you’ve got no idea whatsoever about what the significance of the X Games is then two of Chamonix’s resident authorities are here to help you out: pro snowboarder and film maker Johno Verity, and soul rider James Stentiford have kindly agreed to share their thoughts.
What is the significance of the X Games?
Stenti: There seem to be so many different tours and competitions these days but the X Games hold a special significance for most riders. From the organisation to the course and TV coverage they seem to pay a lot of attention to detail, making sure the athletes are given the best platform to show off their skills. It’s like an ‘Up yours, Olympics. This is how it should be done.’
Johno: The X Games is taking snowboard and ski freestyle and putting it out to the world at the same level as mainstream sports. It’s a chance for the riders to be taken more seriously by the general public.
How does it differ from the Olympics?
Stenti: The focus is purely on skiing and snowboarding meaning more focus on the athletes. At Olympics everything seems very strict and controlled. The X Games, on the other hand, look like fun. You don’t get rock bands playing in a small sweaty club until five in the morning in the Olympic village! The riders get to compete every year so there is maybe less pressure so if you blow it one year there is always the next. You don’t train for four years and spend time qualifying for maybe two runs. It is more about the individual and less about the national team and of course the prize money! Although I think most riders would swap an X Games gold for an Olympic gold.
Johno: These events tend to be more team oriented, (the Olympics are more national). It’s still very small and far less familiar than the Olympics though.
Why are the X Games so popular with a younger demographic, especially when the Olympics has such a hard time attracting that group?
Stenti: I think the name helps. The Olympics struggles to shake off its traditional alpine skiing image. The X Games just seem more real and in touch with what kids want to see. This is my first time at the X Games and it’s similar to a snowboarder- or freestyle-skier-organised event but on a massive scale with bands playing and parties every night (I guess this comes across in the TV coverage) whereas the Olympics seem very serious and strict, which I guess if you’ve trained for four years they would be.
Johno: The Olympics covers every sport from bobsleigh to curling. I think having snowboarding put in alongside these other sports is seen as taking the sport away from its roots, away from the style that is so important in the sport. The X Games focuses on freestyle sports only.