X Games Aspen is the last high-pressure opportunity for Olympic riders to perfect new tricks and buff out bad habits before the Sochi Olympic Games kick off in two weeks. And, by the looks of Saturday night's Women's Snowboard SuperPipe finals, the ladies definitely got the memo.
While not all eight of the women invited to this year's X Games will compete at the Olympics, all of them were throwing down new tricks and new runs. 2002 Olympic gold medalist and gold-medal favorite heading into Sochi, Kelly Clark, took home the win on her first run but used the remaining two runs to attempt a new trick she's hoping to land in Sochi: the Cab 1080. With another gold in her pocket, her collection of X Games medals now sits at 12, making her the woman with the most in the history of the X Games.
Chloe Kim, who would easily have made the U.S. Olympic team, but at 13 is too young to compete in Sochi, stepped up her standard run of the season with a brand-new frontside 900, earning herself her first X Games medal--a silver--and the distinction of being the youngest winter medalist in X Games history.
Kaitlyn Farrington, the second American named to the U.S. Olympic snowboarding team, used the three-run X Games format to showcase her technical prowess with a trio of completely different runs. Her second secured her the bronze medal. Nipping at her heels, in fourth, was fellow Olympic rookie Arielle Gold. (On Thursday, her brother and fellow U.S. Team member, Taylor Gold, missed qualifying to ride in the Men's Snowboard SuperPipe contest Sunday night.)
Last night was also the final X Games appearance for 2006 Olympic silver medalist Gretchen Bleiler, who narrowly missed making this year’s U.S. Olympic Team for halfpipe. She may continue to compete for the rest of the season, but this was her last time under the lights in front of her hometown.
With only five Olympians in the X Games finals field--defending 2010 Olympic gold medalist Torah Bright (AUS) and 2010 Olympic silver medalist Hannah Teter (USA) were absent Saturday evening--Sochi could be anyone's game.
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