Louie Vito, Kaya Turski grab gold
TIGNES, France -- Louie Vito won the Men's Snowboard Superpipe on his birthday, and Kaya Turski won her fourth straight Women's Ski Slopestyle title Thursday at X Games Tignes.
But the buzz was about Swiss rider Iouri Podladtchikov, who finally landed the much-hyped Cab double cork 1440 --3½ rotatoins with two flips -- he's dubbed the "YOLO Flip." But I-Pod, as he's known, hit the deck at the top of the pipe on his next trick and ended up out of the medals.
Vito edged out Arthur Longo on the final run of the competition. Longo, a French rider from nearby Les Deux Alps, was the clear crowd favorite. He led from the first run until the last, when Vito passed him with a score of 92.66. Longo's score was 92.0. Taku Hiraoka of Japan was third.
"I'm stoked to come here and get a win and to end my season with this," Vito said after turning his last run into a winning one. "It's scary, but that's what we love: It's the adrenaline rush and the fact that the sport's still evolving at a rapid rate and the fact that we're all a part of it, all of my friends I grew up riding with. It's crazy to be here and be those guys really pushing the sport."
As for Podladtchikov, he was left fourth place despite his instant-classic "YOLO flip." He tried a front double next, and crashed into the top of the pipe, sliding to the bottom.
"You saw my concentration end right there," he said. "I thought I was going to die on the front double. That was not planned, so, sorry for that."
After his run, he tossed his gloves, helmet, goggles, and snowboard into the crowd in celebration.
"It felt rock and roll, baby," he exclaimed, breathless after his momentous run.
In Women's Ski Slopestyle, Turski had the highest two scores of the day and won the competition with a 93.33 on her second of three runs.
Tiril Sjåstad Christiansen won the silver medal with a score of 90.66. Dara Howell was third with an 88.33.
"It's a great feeling to come out on top again," Turski said after the competition.
Turski had been the overwhelming favorite at Aspen in January but finished behind the 17-year-old Christiansen. Both skiers had massive final runs to climb to the top of the podium.
But there was no such drama in Tignes. Turski put up a 92.33 on her first run and was never seriously challenged.
"I was in third, just trying to get this beast out of me and ski as well as I could," Christiansen said. "I struggled a little bit with the rails today and with my last jump, so I had to mix it up for my third run. It was not planned, but it worked out and I'm happy."
Turski will be one of the heavy favorites at the Sochi Olympics, with Christiansen and Howell chasing her.
"I'm really psyched on how this season went for me," Turski said. "There are lots of new girls on the scene and it's keeping me on my toes. With the Olympics, there's been a big push on the men's and women's side of the sport. I'm excited to be a part of it."
Earlier, McRae Williams, who spent the first part of the week without his skis, spent Thursday on the medal stand with a gold in the Men's Ski Slopestyle finals.
Williams won in his first trip to an X Games final; he failed to qualify for the finals in January at X Games Aspen 2013. He benefited from a finals field that didn't include X Games Aspen medalists Nick Goepper, Henrik Harlaut and James Woods, all of whom failed to get past Wednesday's elimination round.
Williams had a score of 94.33 in his second run before falling in his third. New Zealander Jossi Wells won a silver medal thanks to a huge final run that earned him a 93. That overtook American Gus Kenworthy, who slipped to bronze with a 92.
Williams arrived in Tignes without his gear after the airline misplaced his luggage. A replacement set of skis arrived Wednesday morning. His regular gear arrived later that day.
"It was definitely a stressful beginning of the week, but somehow everything worked out and I couldn't be happier now," Williams said.
A 22-year-old from Park City, Utah, Williams said he woke up with butterflies on the morning of his first X Games final.
"I had trouble getting breakfast down, but it all worked out," he said. "It's a beautiful day, and I was super confident going into it after a few good days of practice. ... It feels amazing: first-ever X Games finals and a gold medal. I can't believe it."
Earlier Thursday, Men's Snowboard Slopestyle favorite Mark McMorris eased into the finals by finishing second in a morning elimination round. McMorris, a 19-year-old Canadian who has won the last two gold medals at X Games Aspen, is looking to join Shaun White as the only snowboarders to win more than two men's X Games golds in Slopestyle.
Norway's Torstein Horgmo won the prelim with a score of 92, two points better than McMorris. Others qualifying for the final included Sebastien Toutant, Peetu Piiroinen, Eric Willett, Gjermund Braaten, Sage Kotsenburg and Ståle Sandbech.
In Men's Ski Superpipe, Kevin Rolland led the eight qualifiers for Friday's final, with favorite David Wise qualifying second.
Information from XGames.com's Colin Bane, Megan Michelson and Melissa Larsen is included in this report.