X Games Aspen: France’s Rolland gets gold in freeski superpipe
The Aspen Times
Viva la France.
Kevin Rolland of La Pagne, France, won the men’s ski superpipe at the Winter X Games on Thursday night in dramatic fashion.
Rolland, who won the superpipe in 2010 and 2011 in Aspen, posted the winning score on the final run of the competition at Buttermilk, knocking Aspen’s Alex Ferreira off the podium.
Sitting in ninth place, Rolland used an aggressive final run with huge amplitude out of the superpipe to post a championship score of 93.33.
His victory also knocked Telluride’s Gus Kenworthy off the top spot on the podium.
Kenworthy, who led the competition after the first and second runs, finished with a silver medal (92.33).
The bronze medal this year went to Benoit Valentin, also of La Plagne, giving France two podium positions. Valentin’s score was 90.66.
Aspen’s Ferreira, who had won bronze in the previous two Winter X Games, ended up in fourth place at 87.00.
Fellow Aspenite Torin Yater-Wallace, coming back from illness and injury, finished fifth at 86.33.
“I’m just shocked right now,” Rolland said after his stunning victory Thursday night in front of a large crowd at the Buttermilk superpipe. “It’s just crazy.”
Rolland won his third Winter X gold medal to go with a pair of silvers and a pair of bronze medals.
“Two French on the podium is awesome,” Rolland said, congratulation countryman Valentin.
Kenworthy opened the competition with a dazzling first run and a 91.33 score after executing five double-moves during his pass through the superpipe.
The Telluride skier, who made headlines earlier this year when he publicly announced that he is gay, drew a huge ovation after his first run.
The Aspen Winter X crowd was even louder on his second run, when his five doubles translated into a 92.33 score – a number that led the competition until the final run of the night.
After that run, Kenworthy said, “That was the best run I’ve ever done.”
And it was good for gold, until Rolland’s dramatic final pass.
David Wise of Reno, Nevada, who has won three golds in ski superpipe, competed Thursday night with a separated left shoulder, suffered in an accident in California.
Wise was unable to launch his usual runs in the superpipe, opening the door for the eventual winners.
Ferreira, in front of his hometown fans, used his double moves to post his best score on the first run of the night.
Yater-Wallace, who missed the last two Winter X Games because of injury, opened with an 83.00 as he continues to recover from an infection that had him bedridden just two weeks ago.
The Aspen native lost 22 pounds with the illness and regained about 12 pounds before Thursday’s event.
After a slip on his second run, Yater-Wallace dazzled the Buttermilk crowd with a strong pass, posting his 86.33 score.
“I’m just happy to be out here,” he said.
The 2015 men’s ski superpipe winner, Simon d’Artois of Canada, missed the 2016 Winter X Games because of a knee injury.
Wise won the previous two superpipe titles.
The Winter X Games turn to snowboarding Friday with the women’s snowboard slopestyle and the women’s ski slopestyle on the schedule.
The snowmobile freestyle competition will go at 5 p.m. Friday at Buttermilk.
And the women’s ski superpipe will be featured Friday night.
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