X Games Aspen 2016 – Spencer O’Brien Wins Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle

[series align=left]On her 10th time at bat, Spencer O’Brien finally won her first X Games slopestyle gold in a closely-fought contest in Aspen.

Prior to the start of the event, the commentators were painting this as a head-to-head battle between threepeat-seeking-missile Silje Norendal and Olympic champ Jamie Anderson. This didn’t make a lot of sense when you considered that both were returning from injury, but even less so once Hayley Langland got on the course. Still only 15, the rookie brought buckets of style to both her rail tricks and airs, and for a while looked like the rider to beat.

Even Hayley’s post-run cloudbursts looked good

Her fellow X debutant Katie Ormerod dealt with first-to-drop pressure admirably, putting down a solid first run. She may not have spun more than 540, but the marker had been set. On her following two runs she stepped it up and went for broke – which is always good to see – but today just wasn’t her day. After a sketchy landing on a backside 720 she was forced to write off the last two jumps of her final run, and that was all she wrote. Katie will be back, though.

From the newbies to a veteran, Cheryl Maas is no stranger to this event. On the first jump she unveiled a switch backside 900, albeit couldn’t hold a full run together and remains medal-less at X. Likewise Christy Prior‘s usual style was in effect, and her first run set her up well, but none of her trio was good enough to earn a medal. Klaudia Medlova took a bold roll of the dice with a double backside rodeo off the final jump, but she couldn’t put it down and had to settle for 7th.

Did anyone else spot the lobster on the judges’ table?

Having never missed an X Games podium in a decade of competition, Jamie clearly wasn’t prepared to settle for 5th. Sure enough, she cleaned up her last run – chucking in a massive rodeo to boot – and got herself on the second step. She’d done just enough to get ahead of Hayley, whose clean rails (nosepress, backside lipslide, frontside noseslide) and stylish spins kept Silje at bay. The Norwegian even threw a cab 900 on her final hit, but it wasn’t enough to earn her a medal of any colour, let alone a third gold on the trot.

It’s not often that Jamie Anderson doesn’t stick her run

All had to make way for Spencer, though, whose second run gave her a score of 91.00. Her rails weren’t the best – only the back lip avoided straying into zeach territory – but her kicker combo of switch backside 720, cab 540 and frontside 7 off the toes brought her to the top step. She attempted to put even more water between her and the rest of the pack in her final run, but the 900 off the final hit was a sketchy affair. Not that it mattered; once Silje’s last score came in, Spencer was hoisted up by her fellow medallists as she burst into tears.

“Ever since I was a little girl, this was all I wanted” said Spencer in an emotional debrief. Her reaction showed how much stock the X Games still carries in snowboarding; she’s a past winner of the WST World Championships and the Burton US Open, but this remained the big one for Spencer.

For all its mid-contest interviewing, commercial break cutaways and stage-sharing with skiing and snowmobiling, X still marks the spot for comptitive riders.

1st – Spencer O’Brien, 91.00
2nd – Jamie Anderson, 89.00
3rd – Hailey Langland, 88.00
4th – Silje Norendal, 85.00
5th – Christy Prior, 84.00
6th – Katie Ormerod, 74.66
7th – Klaudia Medlova, 55.66
8th – Cheryl Maas, 54.66

Check out the rest of the schedule for X Games 2016 here


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