Aspen, CO – Saturday’s podium was a North American skier sweep under beautiful sunny skies at the X Games superpipe in Aspen as Canada’s Rosalind Groenewoud took gold and Noah Bowman earned the silver medal for Canada, and David Wise earned gold, Maddy Bowman landed silver and Brita Sigourney and Torin Yater-Wallace each finished with a bronze for the U.S.
Groenewoud said it was the love and support she felt from the ski community in the wake of Sarah Burke’s death that boosted her to her first X Games gold in Saturday’s women’s ski halfpipe.
“I just let all that love lift me up, I definitely had my teammate with me today, she’s been with me for so long,” said the five-time X Games competitor whose previous best result was bronze. She raised her ski and added, “for Sarah.”
It was a bittersweet moment for Calgary’s Groenewoud, who said she would have preferred if her close friend and teammate had been there in the finish line to give her a hug.
Wearing her signature Canada maple leaf bandana and bright red lipstick, Groenewoud boosted an enormous 14-foot straight air off her first hit in the pipe on her winning run. She followed it by landing her first unnatural 720 in her X Games career.
Silver medalist Bowman, of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., joined a plethora of women here who pulled off 900s (two-and-a-half revolutions). She scored 92.00. Sigourney, of Carmel, Calif., scored 90.66 and performed a difficult 1080 – a trick that Burke pioneered for women.
“There was a lot of great skiing by the girls today and it’s definitely Sarah’s example. The best way to do her legacy justice is to push ourselves and so, that’s what we’re trying to do,” said Groenewoud.
On the men’s side Wise, of Reno, Nev., averaged airs of 17 feet en route to the Winter X Games ski superpipe title. His 93 on his second run of three nailed down the win for the 21-year-old, the oldest competitor on the podium in only his second X Games.
“I just didn’t think about it as pressure. I focused on the perfect halfpipe and perfect conditions,” said Wise, whose winning run consisted of a switch left double 1080 Japan grab, right 900 true tail grab, left 900 true nose grab, ally-oop flat 540 true tail grab (20 feet out of halfpipe), and left double 1260 mute grab. “I wanted to show the world who I am and what I can do. Thanks to everyone for giving me the opportunity to show you what I can do in the pipe.”
The win solidified Wise’s first place ranking on the Association of Freeskiing Professionals list.
Silver medalist Bowman came into the event a true underdog. In fact, the Calgary native was second alternate until he got a call two-hours prior to Friday’s elimination round saying that he had a spot. With nothing to lose, Bowman attempted a trick in the elimination round that no one else is doing, and one that he had only learned the day before – an alley-oop dub nine. That, and the rest of his run, was enough to earn him a spot in Saturday’s finals where he successfully landed it again.
His bravado impressed the judges and the crowd, which began chanting “Noah” before his second and third runs. And it earned Bowman the silver medal at 90.
“Well, I just learned that trick a couple of days ago and it seems to be working out, so I’m going to stick with it,” said the self-effacing, shaggy-haired 19-year-old.
Wise and Bowman were joined by Basalt, Colo.’s Yater-Wallace on the podium, who scored just below Bowman at 89.66 to earn the second X Games medal of his career.
“I felt like I was expected to do well,” he said. “I tried to put the pressure aside, but it is so hard as you are standing at the top about to drop. I am stoked that I am on the podium again.”
Winter X Games
Buttermilk Mountain – Aspen, Colo. – Jan. 28, 2012
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