South Shore women dominate X Games
The South Shore ladies showed how it’s done in the Sierra last weekend under the X Games’ spotlight.
Sierra-at-Tahoe riders Maddie Bowman and Jamie Anderson both took good at the at X Games Aspen 2013. Elena Hight snagged silver and made history, landing the first “double alley-oop backside rodeo” in competition, think two backflips with a 180-degree rotation.
Hight didn’t get the gold that went to Kelly Clark. Hight did, however, showcase the future of women’s snowboarding by nailing a groundbreaking trick in the women’s superpipe final Saturday.
Forget the safety run. In her first run of the night, Hight stomped a show-stopping double backside rodeo.
“I’ve been thinking about doing the double since last May when I landed it in training. This is what I came here to do,” Hight said. “I am going to work on dialing this in, obviously doubles are the way the sport is going and it’s inspiring.”
The trick landed Hight in first until Kelly Clark’s last run of the night.
Clark surpassed Hight’s historic run by simply getting more height in the pipe on her final turn, which the judges rewarded.
“I think the level of women’s snowboarding tonight was at an all-time high,” Clark said. “What Elena did for the sport was incredible.”
It’s a trick Clark might have to incorporate. She has tried it a few times into an air bag, but “I’m not there yet with my double.” That double, though, could be the difference between being on the podium and missing out entirely at the Sochi Games next winter.
Arielle Gold, of Steamboat Springs, Colo., wrapped up the podium with bronze, just days after winning the FIS Snowboard World Championships halfpipe. The 16-year-old came to Aspen as an alternate and got her chance to ride when veteran Gretchen Bleiler withdrew.
Bowman bags gold
The 18-year-old used her new back-to-back 900s to pick up her first X Games gold in only her second appearance.
Bowman posted a huge 91.33 score on her first run, and held onto nearly a five-point win.
“I’m on cloud nine,” Bowman said. “It was huge [to land everything on the first run], because I didn’t land anything on my other two runs. I’m glad I stuck the first run.”
Bowman has scorched the superpipe this month. The X Games gold is the second straight win for Bowman, who topped the field in the Visa U.S. Freeskiing Grand Prix in Copper Mountain two weeks earlier.
For her X Games gold she threw a 900, left side 540 mute grab, right side 540, left side 900, to right side 720 safety grab, to switch left 540.
Canada’s Roz Groenewoud and Megan Gunning were silver and bronze.
Anderson adds another gold
Before Jamie Anderson competes, she likes to hug trees.
One of her favorite trees to hug is the aspen tree, which she easily found Saturday afternoon at Buttermilk.
The South Lake Tahoe native said it helps transfer energy from the earth to herself and helps with calming nerves. However crazy it sounds, it worked, and Anderson soared to her fourth snowboard slopestyle gold medal, and her second straight.
“This course was amazing and really challenging,” Anderson said. “I truly didn’t know how it was going to go.”
It went quite well for the 10-year X Games veteran. Anderson first competed in the games in boardercross when she was 13. Two years later, she moved on to slopestyle, and at age 16, Anderson earned her first X Games medal, a bronze. Since her first medal in 2006, she has earned a medal every year but one.
Anderson’s gold-medal run featured a frontside 270 off the cannon, a backside 180, a Cab 720 and a switch backside 540. That was good for a score of 93, which was enough to hold up through the entire competition.
Sarka Pancochova, a 22-year-old from the Czech Republic who also was caught on camera hugging a tree with Anderson couldn’t land a clean run until her final turn.
“I don’t know why, I was really struggling with the frontside 540,” she said. “I just kind of got pissed in my last run, just thought, ‘This is not happening right now.'”
Pancochova finally landed the frontside 540 off of the second jump and hit both other jumps afterward to post a 90 and claim the silver medal.
Spencer O’Brien, of Vancouver, British Columbia, also achieved her highest score on her final run – an 88.66. However, hand drags marred her landings, and she missed a grab.
“The run I had planned, it could have had gold-medal potential,” O’Brien, 24, said. “I missed a grab on the Cab 540, and it just goes to show how hard execution is. I was a little bit off today, but I was just happy I was able to stand on the podium with these girls.”
In the men’s comp, Chas Guldemond of Reno, Nev., finished fourth, just off the podium. Guldemond beat out Shaun White who was fifth. Mark McMorris of Canada took the win.
Both Guldemond and Anderson took titles two weeks earlier at the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain.
Slopestyle snowboarding will make its Olympic debut next year in Sochi, with official FIS World Cup test events scheduled there next month.
– Michael Appelgate of The Aspen Times and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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