Athletes go big and set new records at the 2023 Winter X Games
This story has been updated to include news and updates from Sunday's events at the Winter X Games.
In a competition where more speed equals more air time, and more air time creates more opportunities to show off ambitious twists and flips on skis and snowboards, a couple of powder days have made conditions more difficult than delightful for athletes at the Winter X Games at Buttermilk Mountain this weekend.
But soft, sloughing snow on the slopes hasn’t gotten in the way of historic firsts on the first two days of competition at X Games Aspen.
Canadian skier Megan Oldham became the first to ever land a “triple cork” in any women’s ski or snowboard competition at Friday’s ski “Big Air” event. Oldham earned a perfect score with her leftside triple cork 1440, completing four full rotations and three flips while she was in the air. Oldham won gold in the competition.
Then, on Saturday night, Japan’s Rera Iwabuchi landed the first-ever triple — that’s three flips in one trick — in a women’s snowboard competition during the women’s snowboard Big Air event. Canadian Laurie Blouin landed the second triple shortly thereafter in the same competition.
Also on Saturday, 14-year-old snowboarder Gaon Choi from South Korea became the youngest athlete to ever win gold in the snowboard SuperPipe. Choi is six months younger than the previous record-holder Chloe Kim was when Kim won for the first time in 2015.
And on Sunday, Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris won the snowboard slopestyle event and nabbed his 22nd X Games medal, officially setting a new hardware record for the winter X Games.
Local skier lands on podium in Special Olympics race
On Friday, Challenge Aspen athlete Tanner Jadwin from Glenwood Springs landed in third place in the Special Olympics Unified Skiing race, which took place on a slalom course set up above the jump of the Big Air course at Buttermilk. This is Jadwin’s second bronze in two years competing in the race at the X Games.
Jadwin teamed up with professional freestyle skier David Wise for the competition, which pairs downhill racers who have cognitive impairments with professional action sports stars. In an interview after the awards ceremony, Jadwin expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to compete at the X Games and for the partners and sponsors that make the event possible.
“It's been awesome,” Jadwin said in an interview after the awards ceremony. “It's an honor to get to do this.”
The results are based on each team’s combined times. Special Olympics athlete Haldan Pranger from Lakewood, Colo., and Basalt freestyle skier Hanna Faulhaber took the top spot on the skiing podium; Special Olympics snowboarder Dana Schiltz and pro partner Mons Røisland won the Unified Snowboarding race.
Faulhaber in fifth for women’s ski SuperPipe
Faulhaber returned to the ski SuperPipe on Saturday for her second year of X Games competition.
Faulhaber finished in fifth this weekend, though she spent much of the 30-minute “jam session” competition perched in third place.
The jam session format at the X Games allows athletes to take as many runs as time permits, ranking competitors based on overall impressions without posting hard scores for spectators to compare.
Other athletes skied strong runs late in the event that nudged them up the leaderboard: Four-time X Games competitor and first-time medalist Zoe Atkin from Great Britain landed on the top of the podium, with Canadian Rachael Karker in second and Winter Park’s Svea Irving in third.
Eileen Gu, who won two gold medals and one silver at her debut X Games in 2021, did not compete as she originally planned to in any of the women’s skiing events this year.
The Olympic medalist withdrew from the SuperPipe, Big Air and Slopestyle events this weekend due to a knee injury sustained in a crash during training on Friday.
Ferreira, Bowman suffer painful crashes in men's ski SuperPipe
It was a hard night for X Games athletes in the men’s ski SuperPipe on Sunday as multiple competitors suffered painful crashes on the course.
Aspenite Alex Ferreira hip-checked the wall of the pipe near the end of his first run. Then on his second run, his upper body took a hard hit to the lip of the superpipe, knocking Ferreira to the flats. He was able to complete one more trick on the way to the base but opted out of the rest of the “jam” session and finished eighth.
Canadian Noah Bowman suffered a crash at the end of his fourth and final run and was helped off the course by medical personnel, finishing seventh.
David Wise, of Reno, Nevada, took home his fifth X Games gold medal as winner of the event. After the competition, Wise noted that there was an emotional weight on the athletes as news broke earlier in the day that freestyle skier Kyle Smaine had died in an avalanche in Japan.
Birk Irving of Englewood, Colorado, finished in second place and Finnish skier Jon Sallinen, a graduate of the Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale, nabbed the bronze medal.
Results are posted at xgames.com/past-results and livestream links are available at xgames.com/x-games-aspen-2023-how-to-watch.