Words & Photos by Ed
A brand new X-Games event had a brand new gold medalist yesterday, with Colorado’s Eric Willet claiming the honours in the men’s slopestyle final. Willet, who the organizers described as ‘a newly-minted pro from Breckenridge’ beat an impressive field of riders including Travis Rice, Chas Guldemond and Iouri Podladtchikov.
As anyone reading yesterday’s report will know, the slopestyle course has been stirring controversy by including a challenging line of seven hits which the competitors have found doubly tough to complete due to problems with speed. On Thursday, however, the shapers had done some stirling work to improve the latter problem and with Mother Nature providing bluebird conditions the guys were able to put on an impressive show in the final.
Willet’s winning run was super tech, and having spun all four ways he finished things off on the final booter with a textbook double backside rodeo which the crowd went mental for.
“I wasn’t really landing my tricks in practice, but somehow it all clicked and came together for me in the final,” Willett told the press. “I had no idea what I was going to do, and I’m so stoked right now. The course is perfect and the riding level is insane.”
Second place went to the fabulously named American Sage Kotsenburg (hippy parents methinks?) while Marko Grilc’s fantastic season continued with third place. As for Travis Rice? He was way back in 7th! Go figure – maybe pushing the freestyle boundaries in Alaska isn’t the best preparation for a choreographed park run.
Check out highlights of the action so far here.
Results – Mens Slopestyle Final
1. Eric Willett USA 91.00
2. Sage Kotsenburg USA 85.33
3. Marko Grilc SLO 83.66
4. Stephan Maurer SUI 82.66
5. Chas Guldemond USA 70.66
6. Christian Haller SUI 67.66
7. Travis Rice USA 50.33
8. Iouri Podladtchikov SUI 49.33