Kelly Clark sets mark with SuperPipe gold
ASPEN, Colo. -- Kelly Clark scored an X Games Aspen four-peat in Snowboard SuperPipe and won her 12th career X Games medal Saturday, becoming the most decorated female athlete in X Games history.
"I think it's one of the best events of the year, coming here to X Games and getting to showcase our snowboarding and take women's snowboarding forward," Clark said. "It's been one of my privileges to be part of that."
Clark's first of three runs, which featured the only 1080 in the field, was enough to hang on to the lead. She spent her next two runs attempting to add a Cab 1080 to her performance but did not improve on her first-run score of 95. Clark, who was the top qualifier for the U.S. Olympic women's halfpipe team, will be a gold-medal favorite at the upcoming Sochi Olympic Games.
Thirteen-year-old X Games rookie Chloe Kim briefly led the field Saturday, scoring 93 in her first run thanks to tremendous amplitude and big tricks like a frontside 720 truck driver. She fell in her second run, then improved to 94.33 in her final run, adding a frontside 900 and bumping into silver-medal position ahead of bronze medalist Kaitlyn Farrington. With the silver, Kim became the youngest medalist in X Games winter event history.
"They're very inspirational," Kim said about her fellow competitors. "To be on the podium with them is just so exciting and awesome."
Kim is too young to be eligible for the 2014 Olympics but has been making a big splash this season with podium finishes at recent Grand Prix and Dew Tour events.
"Whenever I decide to leave, it's going to be in good hands," Clark said about the future of women's snowboarding.
Saturday was an emotional night for four-time X Games gold medalist and Aspen native Gretchen Bleiler, who announced her retirement this week and said this will be her last X Games.
"I'm so grateful to this crowd here in Aspen," Bleiler said. "Thank you for always cheering me on."
The crowd in Aspen on Saturday was a record one, with the attendance of 48,000 breaking the single-day mark set at Aspen 2013 for an X Games winter event.
Women's Snowboard SuperPipe Final
GoPro Ski Big Air
Swede Henrik Harlaut defended his GoPro Ski Big Air title Saturday, dreadlocks flailing as he reprised the same nose butter triple cork 1620 that helped him win last year.
That triple was the highest-scoring trick of the night, but Harlaut backed it up with a switch tail butter double cork 1080 double grab for a combined score of 93. That put Harlaut ahead of silver medalist Vincent Gagnier and bronze medalist Kai Mahler.
"It felt like it was time to do it again. I was hoping not to have to do it. ... I looked up to the sky, gave a prayer to my dude Tommy Warnick, and he helped me out with it," Harlaut said, in reference to a skier friend who died in November 2013. "I got it done and thanks to him for that."
The Big Air field is a tight-knit crowd, and Harlaut also gave props to his competitors. "Vincent Gagnier, doing the craziest stuff I've ever seen. Big ups to him," he said.
It was the first X Games medal for Gagnier, who finished seventh in his X Games debut in 2013.
"It's always been a dream of mine to get a medal out here and just compete," Gagnier said.
Harlaut also will be a podium threat in Sunday's Ski Slopestyle final.
"It definitely boosts up the confidence," he said. "I'm just going to go have fun and land a run I'm really hyped on. Hopefully it goes my way and I do my best."
Alex Schlopy also qualified for the final but crashed in the first heat and wasn't able to continue due to injury.
GoPro Ski Big Air Final
Men's Snowboard Slopestyle
Canadian rider Max Parrot's X Games weekend began with a Snowboard Big Air win Friday night and ended with a Slopestyle win Saturday.
Parrot narrowly beat countryman and X Games Aspen 2012 and 2013 gold medalist Mark McMorris, who led after the second of three runs but crashed hard in the rail section in his third run and was unable to improve his second-place standing.
McMorris knocked the wind out of himself and his sponsor Red Bull later confirmed that he fractured a rib. He was able to ride down but said, "I'm sore. I just pray to God I'm OK and it's nothing serious. It's too bad. I must have lost train of thought of what I was doing. I wasn't in focus."
Norwegian rider Ståle Sandbech won bronze with a technical run in which he spun in every direction, both regular and switch.
Parrot got technical in the rail section, with a Cab 270 on the down rail, a hardway to backside 450 on the down-flat-down rail and a 270 on the up-flat-down rail, before going big in the jumps with a frontside double cork 1080, double cork backside rodeo, Cab triple underflip and backside triple cork 1440.
"In the jumps, pretty much all the riders have the same tricks, so everything comes down to who's going to step up the game on the rails," Parrot said. "That's why I tried the hardway backside 450 in. I've never done that trick before so I was really stoked today."
Men's Snowboard Slopestyle Final
Women's Snowboard Slopestyle
Norwegian rider Silje Norendal followed up her X Games Tignes 2013 gold medal with a Slopestyle win Saturday in Aspen, upsetting Jamie Anderson's attempt at an X Games Aspen three-peat.
"I just really wanted to land it," Norendal said. "I've been struggling all week. ... I really wanted it."
Anderson won silver, and Canadian rider Spencer O'Brien won bronze.
Anderson's first-run score of 95.66 held up until the last possible moment, when Norendal stepped up her third and final run with technical rail tricks including a boardslide to 270 out, a frontside 720, a backside rodeo 540, a Cab 720 and a switch backside 540 in the jumps. Anderson washed out on the third jump in her final run.
Anderson now has nine X Games medals in 11 appearances -- four gold, three silver and two bronze.
"I hope they enjoy it," Anderson said, referring to fans who might be getting their first taste of snowboard slopestyle when the event makes its Olympic debut next month in Russia. "It's so fun and creative, and everyone has something else to bring to the table. ... I think it will be a good showing."
Women's Snowboard Slopestyle Final
Snowmobile Long Jump
Levi LaVallee won gold in the return of Snowmobile Long Jump at X Games on Saturday. LaVallee beat Cory Davis in the third and final elimination round with a distance of 147 feet, 5 inches, to Davis' 142 feet, 11 inches.
LaVallee was the defending champion in the event, which was last contested at X Games Aspen 2010. Bronze went to Colten Moore, who was eliminated in the third round. Moore won gold in Snowmobile Freestyle on Thursday night.
"I've done a lot of jumping my whole life and I guess the long jump was just built for me, so I'm pumped to be up here," LaVallee said. "Since I was a little kid, I've just wanted to go as big as possible, big in front of my family or friends or whatever it was. Now we've got all these great fans out here, [and] I'm trying to go as big as I can."
The win is LaVallee's seventh at X Games -- and his 11th medal in 10 X Games appearances -- and he'll aim for an eighth gold medal in Sunday's SnoCross final.