One week after sweeping the Men’s LAAX Open Slopestyle podium, the Canadian National Snowboard team descended onto the 2016 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado with competition from January 28-31 2016. The Canadian contingent returns home with a haul of six medals with stellar performances from a number of athletes in different disciplines.
Competing in her 10th X Games, Spencer O’Brien (Courtenay, BC) entered as one of the favourite contenders, with sights set on her first X Games gold medal. After a slightly shaky rail section on her first run, O’Brien stomped her second run cleanly, including a stylish “off the toes” frontside 720 on the final jump to capture her first ever career X Games Gold Medal with a judges score of 91.00.
“Ever since I was a little girl, X Games gold was all I wanted” an elated, emotional O’Brien told the X games crowd, which included friends and family, after garnering her first X Games Slopestyle title.
Canucks also dominated the X Games Big Air field on Friday evening during the jam format event that included never before seen tricks in front of a packed crowd. Fans watched in anticipation to see if Max Parrot (Bromont, QC) would perform a quadruple underflip, a trick learned late last season and never seen in competiton. Darcy Sharpe (Comox, BC), in his first ever X Games, started the festivities with a crowd-pleasing method, and from there the insanity of trick variatons with triple corks and huge spins kicked off. The Canadians battled it out for top spot, Max Parrot dropped a backside 1620 triple cork and a cab triple 1800 to capture the gold, his second career gold in the event while defending champ and crowd favourite Mark McMorris (Regina, SK) slid into second place. Seb Toots (L’Assomption, QC) finished just off the podium in fourth, while Sharpe finished in sixth.
On the slopestyle men’s side, the final took place on Saturday and once again the Canadian riders proved to be the best of the best. Since 2011, Canada has captured all six Slopestyle men’s titles and 2015 Champion Mark McMorris successfully defended his title, slightly edging out fellow countryman Seb Toots who led the field for much of the competition. Darcy Sharpe finished in sixth while Big Air winner Max Parrot landed in ninth.
Over on the racetrack, 20-year-old Alex “Bubz” Massie (Barrie, ON) bested his 2015 X Games Bronze by finishing second in the Snowboarder X Adaptive final. In only his second season with the national team, Massie has quickly asserted himself as a fan favourite and contender in the biggest events on the circuit. The patriotic and eccentric Massie was sporting a Canadian flag toga as he took the podium.
Teammate and 2014 Paralympian John Leslie (Arnprior, ON) finished second in the consolation final with a time of 1:11.025.
In snowboardcross, after qualifying for the semi-finals in ninth place, 2015 X Games gold medalist Kevin Hill (Vernon, BC) looked set to cruise into the finals before being bumped and forced to the outside lane in his semi finals heat, ending any hope of a repeat gold. Hill eventually finished sixth in the consolation final while Chris Robanske (Squamish, BC) failed to qualify for the semis and Zoe Bergermann (Erin, ON) grabbed second in the women’s consolation final.