Mark McMorris earns double gold
Canadian phenom Mark McMorris, 18, went 2-for-2 at Winter X Games 2012 after winning Snowboard Big Air gold on Friday and beating out Sage Kotsenburg and Peetu Piiroinen for the gold in Men's Snowboard Slopestyle on Saturday. In last year's Winter X 15, McMorris took silver in Slopestyle as a rookie; in his sophomore appearance this year he seemed unstoppable.
"Those riders up there are some of my really good friends," McMorris said, after sealing up the win under the lights at Buttermilk Mountain in Aspen, Colo. "When you're riding with the people you love to ride with it makes everything so much fun."
McMorris took an early lead with a Run 1 score of 90.00, then improved to 93.33 in Run 2 after sticking a frontside 180 onto a cargo container, Cab 270 into wallride, and frontside bluntslide to 450 out in the technical rail section, then making his way into the four-hit jump line with a Cab double cork 900, a frontside double cork 1080, a double "wildcat" backflip, and a backside 1260.
His competitors, including 2011 Slopestyle gold medalist Sebastian Toutant, tried, but failed to answer in Run 3.
"The second run was the run I'd planned," McMorris said, after throwing some big, floating method airs for the fans on his last-run victory lap. "Everything kind of worked out and I got to cruise my last run. That's what I find most fun in snowboarding, is having fun."
Kotsenburg was not on the leaderboard the entire event, but he bumped into silver medal position in his last run with huge tricks like a switch backside double cork 1080, Cab double cork 1260, and backside double cork 1260.
"I did really bad in my first two runs, so I guess I'm good under pressure, which kind of helps sometimes because you just get some adrenaline going and then you can put it down," Kotsenburg said. This is his second Winter X Games medal; he won bronze in Big Air in 2011.
Saturday's silver medal finish also earned Kotsenburg a wild card invitation to Travis Rice's Red Bull Supernatural competition next week at Baldface in British Columbia, Canada. McMorris had already won his wild-card entry, so the Winter X Slopestyle winner spot defaulted to Kotsenburg -- a fact that hadn't even occurred to him until well after the end of the event.
"What?" he exclaimed, after hearing the news. "Oh my gosh, I did not think about that! I'm gonna die! That's a pretty gnarly opportunity but you gotta take it, even if you get played there. It feels like a bittersweet moment, like, I'm scared, but it'd be such a sick thing to go to. There's no way you're gonna turn down an invite to T. Rice's Supernatural event."
As always, Winter X Games brought out some heavy hitters for the Men's Snowboard Slopestyle competition.
"It was a deep field this year," McMorris said. "We had 16 of the best snowboarders in the world here this week and obviously everybody was going for a technical run out there. Sage put down a run that could have won any other day, and Peetu did, too."
Piiorinen's bronze medal is his first Winter X Games podium finish.
"I was really surprised I got third place," Piiorinen said. "I can say it was the hardest slopestyle contest I've ever competed in."