Action sports made a triumphant return Friday afternoon at Buttermilk Mountain when X Games Aspen 2021 kicked off with Jeep Women’s Snowboard SuperPipe, Women’s Ski Big Air, Wendy’s Snowboard Knuckle Huck and Men’s & Women’s Ski SuperPipe. The 20th annual event in Aspen is the first-ever with no spectators in attendance due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, but fans can catch all the action on ESPN, ABC and ESPN2, with exclusive web content across @XGames social and XGames.com.
In the first competition of the day, Jeep Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle, kicked off with sunny skies and a fast course. The queen of Slopestyle, Jamie Anderson, took an early lead which held up through the competition. Her fourth run included a backside lipslide on the down-flat-down, a Cab double cork 900 Weddle and a huge backside rodeo stalefish which was the best trick off the final feature. As the only woman competing in three Snowboard disciplines, Jamie kicked off the event with her 16th medal. Coming into the final runs, Laurie Blouin sat in second place and Zoi Sadowski-Synott in third, but Zoi’s technical rail section and huge jumps bumped her up to silver medal position.
Next up, Swiss skier Mathilde Gremaud took her second gold in Women’s Ski Big Air after throwing down a switch leftside double 1080 tailgrab and a switch double 1440 safety grab – the first time the latter was ever landed by a woman in competition. What might be more impressive – Gremaud crashed in her third run but turned around and attempted her winning trick once more, successfully. Defending X Games Norway 2020 gold medalist Megan Oldham took silver and X Games rookie Eileen Gu, competing in three disciplines her first event, took bronze.
X Games rookie and youngest male competitor at X Games Aspen Dusty Henricksen won the coveted golden knuckles during Wendy’s Snowboard Knuckle Huck. The 17-year-old from Mammoth Lakes, Calif. said his favorite trick in the 20-minute jam session was a cab 180 tail press front flip out. Henricksen will compete twice more this weekend: Jeep Men’s Slopestyle tomorrow and The Real Cost Men’s Big Air on Sunday.
Over in the SuperPipe, rookie Eileen Gu added her second medal of the day and took gold in Women’s Ski SuperPipe. The win marks the first gold medal ever won by a Chinese athlete at X Games and the first time a rookie has ever won a gold medal in Women’s Ski SuperPipe. Wth 900s in both directions, a lofty switch 720 and an average amplitude on her best run of 11’3”, Gu bested two-time Women’s Ski SuperPipe gold medalist Cassie Sharpe, who took silver, and defending silver-medalist Rachael Karker, who took bronze.
The final competition of the night saw New Zealander Nico Porteous earn his first X Games gold medal in Men’s Ski SuperPipe. As the youngest in the field at 19-years old, Nico’s third run jumped him from fourth place to the top spot with back-to-back 1620s and an alley-oop double. Although Alex Ferreira was unable to complete the three-peat, fellow Aspen native Aaron Blunck represented taking home silver and Winter Park, Colo. native Birk Irving won bronze.
Tomorrow will continue the RLCS X Games: North American Regional. Last weekend, 24 Rocket League teams stepped onto the RLCS X Games pitch, and now only 12 remain. North American heavyweights are stacked in the top of the double-elimination bracket. Two-time RLCS X Winter Split Regional Champions Team Envy, G2 Esports, Rogue, NRG Esports, and Spacestation Gaming all still have two lives heading into this weekend’s competition. With two days left of competition, only one team will rise to be RLCS X Games Champions and earn the RLCS X Games Medals. All RLCS X Games competition is available on the ESPN App.