Words: Pat Bridges
The on air hyperbole about the fact that the average age of the Winter X Games Men’s Slopestyle finalists was only 20 shouldn’t come as a surprise to Snowboardermag.com readers. With their past performances at The Launch and Superpark one would have to be in need of lasek to not see their talent.
The curse of the shadowed landings returned to Aspen this year to keep the five year flat light streak alive. Triple tosser Torstein Horgmo showed similar brilliance to his semi-finals and big air performances but couldn’t set it down. Mikkel Bang once again kept it real by forgoing stunts for style but the judges place progression over personality so Mikkel Bag wasn’t scored very high. Everyone’s favorite journeyman, Chas Guldemond has been doing his part to stem the rookie onslought but today his double corks weren’t as dynamic as the top placers.
First, second and third went to Sebastien Toutant, Mark McMorris and Tyler Flanagan respectively. I could throw the numbers of rotations and let you do the math but simply watch the video because words wouldn’t do their tricks justice.
In regards to the Winter X Games 15 Men’s slopestyle finals I am compelled to address the Shaun White issue. With the on air commentary being overly centered around his failure in qualifying, often overshadowing the winners despite being a loser, here is my take on his future slopestyle prospects.
First of all, anyone who has achieved dominance in multiple sports can’t be counted out when it comes to achieving any goal. That said the crux of a potential slopestyle comeback for Shaun White is the fact that he has to overcome a generation of riders whose inspiration to snowboard competitively was spawned by Shaun’s past X performances. His hiatus to focus on halfpipe gave these young contendors a chance to rise up the slope ranks unabated, thereby forgoing the White mystique which continues to hinder his halfpipe peers. Furthermore these kids have a level of support far surpassing even what Shaun White was afforded at their age. They also genuinely strive to elevate each other with a comradery uncommon in top tier snowboarding.
The second hurdle Shaun must overcome is the fact that no two slopestyle jumps are exactly the same whereas halfpipes are uniform. In this regard it is much like surfing. For a rider who has had halfpipes custom built to Olympic and X Games specs this could pose a huge problem. Sure he could utilize the same airbag training setup which propelled him to Vancouver victory but the chances of replicating a real world slopestyle jump is nearly impossible because of the lack of standardization.
Lastly there are the requisite distractions which come with being Shaun White the celebrity and brand. Ever time he is stepping out of his Lambo these new age slopestyle technicians are strapping in atop a different jump and sending it.
What do you think, will Shaun White dominate in slopestyle again?
Winter X Games 15 Men’s Slopestyle Results:
1. Sebastien Toutant
2. Mark McMorris
3. Tyler Flanagan
4. Chas Guldemond
5. Mikkel Bang
6. Torstein Horgmo
7. Halldor Helgason
8. Eric Willett