X Games Aspen 2016: First athlete invites
First round of Aspen invites
To land a coveted invite to compete at X Games, you have to be among the best in the world in your discipline. The first round of invited athletes for X Games Aspen 2016, taking place Jan. 28-31, has just come out. All of the athletes who medaled in 2015 have, of course, been invited to compete again. Take a tour through this gallery for the full list. The second round of invites will be announced in mid-November.
Men's Snowboard SuperPipe
Danny Davis, shown here, proved his gold in 2014 wasn't a one-off victory when he defended his Snowboard SuperPipe title in Aspen in 2015, earning his second X Games gold and ensuring him a spot in Aspen in 2016. He'll be joined by Taku Hiraoka and Iouri Podladtchikov, who finished second and third in 2015.
Men's Ski SuperPipe
A new name rose to the top of the Men's Ski SuperPipe field at X Games Aspen 2015 -- Canadian Simon d'Artois, shown here. He took the gold medal, unseating defending champion and Olympic gold medalist David Wise, who was going for an Aspen four-peat and ended up in fourth place. Frenchman Kevin Rolland took silver and Aspen native Alex Ferreira got bronze. Early invitations to compete at X Games 2016 will be granted to d'Artois, Rolland and Ferreira.
Women's Snowboard SuperPipe
It was an historic moment in snowboarding in January when 14-year-old Chloe Kim, photographed here, defeated SuperPipe queen Kelly Clark. It was Kim's first X Games gold, making her the youngest XG gold medalist ever. Kim tops the invite list for X Games 2016. Clark took silver earlier this year and will be joined on the invite list by Australian Torah Bright, who claimed bronze.
Women's Ski SuperPipe
Maddie Bowman, pictured here, won her third consecutive X Games gold medal in Women's Ski SuperPipe in January, coming off an Olympic gold medal from the previous winter. She will surely be one to watch at X Games this coming January. She is joined on the early invite list by silver medalist from Japan, Ayana Onozuka, and California native Brita Sigourney, who took bronze.
Mono Skier X
At age 53, Chris Devlin-Young won the return of Mono Skier X last season in Aspen, and he will be invited to return this winter, as well as 2015 podium finishers Brandon Adam and Ravi Drugan. Mono Skier X returned to the X Games sports lineup last winter after a three-year hiatus.
Men's Ski Slopestyle
Nick Goepper, an Olympic bronze medalist and two-time X Games champion in Men's Ski Slopestyle, shown here, almost didn't make the finals in Aspen in 2015. He was just outside the bubble in the elimination round, but a last-minute drop from the roster gave him a spot in the finals, and he ended up with his third consecutive gold. He will be on the invited list for 2016, along with silver medalist and Olympic champ Joss Christensen and 2015 XG bronze medalist Alex Bellemare.
Men's Snowboard Slopestyle
Canadian Mark McMorris, shown here, had quite a year at X Games in 2015: He won gold in both Men's Snowboard Slopestyle and Snowboard Big Air, and he will be invited back to compete this season in both disciplines. Slopestyle silver medalist Stale Sandbech and and bronze medalist Sven Thorgren will also be invited.
Women's Snowboard Slopestyle
Silje Norendal, photographed here, defended her gold from the year before by beating out four-time champion Jamie Anderson for Women's Snowboard Slopestyle gold in 2015. Norendal, who is from Norway, and Anderson, the Olympic gold medalist in the discipline, will be on the invite list for the upcoming X Games, as well as 2015 bronze medalist Christy Prior.
Women's Ski Slopestyle
Swede Emma Dahlstrom, photographed here, won her first X Games medal last winter in Women's Ski Slopestyle, beating out veteran XG competitor Keri Herman, who took silver, and the Olympic gold medalist from Canada, Dara Howell, who took bronze. All three are on the first round of invites for 2016.
Ski Big Air
Vincent Gagnier, pictured here, followed up a 2014 silver in Ski Big Air with his first gold in 2015, wowing fans with extremely technical and stylish tricks. Runner-up and former Big Air champ Bobby Brown and bronze medalist Elias Ambuhl will join Gagnier on the first round of Ski Big Air invites.
Snowboard Big Air
Mark McMorris claimed victory in Snowboard Big Air at X Games Aspen 2015. (He also won Slopestyle.) It's no surprise then that McMorris, shown here, made the first invite list for 2016. Max Parrot and Yuki Kadono, who rounded out last season's podium, will be invited back as well.
Snowboarder X Adaptive
American Keith Gabel won Snowboarder X Adaptive at X Games Aspen 2015, his first X Games medal. He will be invited back for a chance to defend his title in January. New Zealander Carl Murphy and Canadian Alex Massie took silver and bronze, respectively, last winter and will be included among the first round of invited athletes for 2016.
Women's Snowboarder X
Lindsey Jacobellis proved why she is the best in the game in 2015 with a six-peat in Women's Snowboarder X -- her ninth career X Games gold medal. She will be the one to beat in 2016, but silver medalist Dominique Maltais and bronze medalist Nelly Moenne Loccoz, among others, will be invited back to Aspen to challenge her.
Men's Snowboarder X
Canadian Kevin Hill won his second X Games medal with a victory in Men's Snowboarder X in Aspen last January. Hill will be invited back to compete this season. The Snowboarder X silver medalist from 2015 Omar Visintin and bronze medalist and seven-time XG winner Nate Holland are also on the invite list.
In 2015, Tucker Hibbert won his eighth straight Snowmobile SnoCross gold, and this January he will be invited back to go for nine in a row. If he wins, he will tie with BMX Vert rider Jamie Bestwick for most consecutive X Games victories in history. SnoCross silver medalist Kody Kamm and and bronze medalist Ross Martin will also make the first invite list.
Snowmobile SnoCross Adaptive
Garrett Goodwin, shown here, has been climbing his way up the SnoCross Adaptive rankings, winning gold earlier this year on top of his silver and bronze from the two previous years. Goodwin, a T-10 paraplegic who designed his own custom snowmobile seat, will be invited back in January. Doug Henry took silver and Jim Wazny scored bronze this year, earning them both a spot on the early invite list.