Mark McMorris left the 2015 Winter X Games the most decorated Canadian athlete, winning a pair of gold medals over the four-day competition.
On the last day of festivities, McMorris added a slopestyle gold to go with his first place prize in big air two days earlier. Slopestyle was the event in which McMorris won an Olympic bronze medal while competing with a fractured rib at Sochi 2014. It is the second time in his career that McMorris won double gold at the X Games, previously doing it in 2012. Overall, Canadians took nine medals (five gold, two each of silver and bronze).
McMorris’ best run came on his second attempt, receiving a 96.00 from the judges, one point better than Stale Sandbech of Norway, the Sochi silver medallist in slopestyle. McMorris’ older brother Craig, one of the announcers at X Games, had doubts if his sibling had done enough, but that worry was put to rest with the head judge explaining that although both boarders had flawless runs, McMorris scored higher on the rails. Sweden’s Sven Thorgren was third. The other Canadian in the field, McMorris’ Sochi teammate Sebastien Toutant, fell just shy of the podium at fourth.
In women’s slopestyle it was a tough break for another Olympian, Spencer O’Brien. She was fourth in a strong field, two points off the podium despite thrilling the crowd in Aspen by making history:
More X Games Canadian history was made in Aspen to close out the overall competition on Sunday when Simon d’Artois finished atop a stellar men’s ski superpipe field that included two of his teammates.
It took a while for his rivals to surpass d’Artois’ opening score of 90.33, but when Alex Ferreira of the United States did just that in his third and final run, the Canadian simply stepped up and bested Ferreira’ 91.66 with a 93.00. Kevin Rolland of France, the Sochi ski halfpipe bronze medallist, also delivered on his last attempt, earning the silver.
Highlighting the massive individual achievement, others in the field included Olympic halfpipe champion David Wise (4th) and d’Artois’ national teammate and Sochi silver medallist Mike Riddle (8th).
Skiers get in on Saturday fun
A day after Canada’s snowboarders grabbed four medals at the X Games, the skiers got in on the podium action with three medals.
First two medals of the day – both bronze – came in slopestyle.
Alex Bellemare found his way to the men’s podium with a score of 85.66. Competitors qualifying for the final had three runs and the best score was counted. Bellemare registered his medal-winning score on his second run. Gold went to defending champion, American Nick Goepper (93.66) and silver to his compatriot Joss Christensen (90.66).
In the women’s event Olympic champion Dara Howell had her best run on her third and final attempt, a score of 82.00 lifting her from fifth to third place, but forcing her to wait and watch. American Devin Logan had a chance to displace Howell from the podium, but came up one point short for fourth. Sweden’s Emma Dahlstrom (90.33) finished first, and American Keri Herman (86.66) was second.
A day after Canada’s snowboarders finished 1-2 in their Big Air competition, it was the freeskiers’ turn and once more, a Canadian found himself at the top of the podium after gravity-defying stunts.
Vincent Gagnier, younger brother of Canadian X Games great Charles, had a combined best two score 91.00 after four runs to run away with the ski big air competition.
Olympic boarders rule big air
Olympic bronze medallist in slopestyle, McMorris, 21, won his ninth career X Games medal and fourth gold with a ‘best two’ run of 88.00. He previously won the Big Air event in 2012. McMorris’ Olympic event, slopestyle, takes place on Sunday.
His compatriot Parrot, the snowboard big air winner from 2014, won silver with a 82.00 score in the final. Parrot had the best scores in his heat. McMorris, meanwhile, held on to the final qualification spot in his heat for a place in the final, where he seemingly saved the best for last and clearly had the announcers confounded:
Canadians shine in SBX
Earlier on Friday, Kevin Hill followed up his world championship silver medal last week with X Games gold on Friday.
The in-form snowboarder, who made his Olympic debut at Sochi 2014, was peerless through heats and semifinals of the men’s snowboard X event before winning the final in Aspen, Colorado ahead of Omar Visintin and Nate Holland.
A week earlier in Kreischberg, Austria at the FIS World Championships, Hill grabbed the silver medal in snowboard cross behind Luca Matteotti of Italy.
Canada Snowboard got on the board Friday just before Hill’s championship run through double Olympic medallist Dominique Maltais. In the women’s snowboard X competition Maltais finished second to American Lindsey Jacobellis, the world champion, but the Canadian did edge Nelly Moenne Loccoz who had to settle for bronze.
More success could be on its way Friday, with the snowboard Big Air final, featuring Olympic bronze medallist Mark McMorris among the Canadian contingent.