X Games pros ready
The stars are aligned for the Winter X Games in Aspen Thursday, Jan. 22, through Sunday, Jan. 25.
From Olympic medalists to Winter X Games medalists to living legends and rising stars, the athlete lineup for the 2015 games in Aspen is unprecedented in international — and local — depth.
Aspen Olympian Torin Yater-Wallace, the 19-year-old skiing sensation in the halfpipe, is back to lead the parade of all-stars set to compete at Buttermilk Mountain over the next five days.
Yater-Wallace, who first launched into the skiing elite under the bright spotlight of the Winter X Games three years ago, will lead an Olympic-caliber field in the Men’s Ski Superpipe competition. The field will include Olympic gold medalist David Wise, a star from the Sochi Winter Olympics.
Wise and Yater-Wallace set the stage for the Winter X showdown in Aspen with a series of riveting halfpipe contests earlier this season at Copper Mountain and in Breckenridge.
The two traded dramatic victories and offered a preview of the action at Buttermilk, starting with the men’s elimination round Friday afternoon and concluding with the final competitive event on the 2015 Winter X schedule Sunday afternoon.
They will be joined in the halfpipe by 20-year-old Aspen skier Alex Ferreira, who won a bronze medal on his home turf in the 2014 Winter X Games.
Ferreira also skied in the 2013 Winter X Games at Buttermilk, when he finished 13th as an 18-year-old.
One of the most decorated halfpipe skiers in recent history will return in the women’s division.
Maddie Bowman, the two-time Winter X defending champion in the Women’s Ski Superpipe, will go for three in a row in Aspen. Bowman, from South Lake Tahoe, California, also won gold at the Sochi Winter Olympics last year.
The superstars on snowboards — two of the most iconic athletes in X Games history — also are on the invited list for Aspen 2015.
Shaun White and Kelly Clark.
Kelly Clark and Shaun White.
They’ve collected more medals than the rest of the snowboard fields combined.
White, the pioneer of major exposure for Winter X, has won 15 Winter X gold medals.
Plus, he’s won five silvers and three bronzes for a grand total of 23 Winter X Games medallions.
Likewise, Clark has dominated the Women’s Snowboard Superpipe in Aspen with seven gold medals earned in the Buttermilk pipe. She’s got four silvers and a bronze — 12 X Games medals in total.
Clark also won bronze at the Sochi Winter Games and the 2010 Vancouver Games. And she won gold at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.
And there’s more.
Such as 14-year-old snowboard pipe standout Chloe Kim, who won silver in Aspen last year.
Seven-time X Games snowmobile medalist Levi LaVallee will set the pace in Aspen again this year. Colten Moore, with two Winter X gold medals in snowmobiling, will be back to lead his ever-present cheering section. And snowmobile superstar Tucker Hibbert, too.
Plus, Sage Kotsenburg, Jamie Anderson, Lindsey Jacobellis, Gus Kenworthy, Nick Baumbartner, and Hannah Teeter will be present.
And defending snowboard halfpipe world and Olympic champion Iouri Podladtchikov, of Switzerland — the Russian-born athlete known as “I-Pod.”
As usual, the Winter X Games lineup in Aspen is a showcase for Colorado athletes.
Fifteen Colorado competitors are entered this year, led by Yater-Wallace, Ferreira and Mono Skier X rider Josh Elliott — all of Aspen.
Vail’s Taylor Seaton, 24, will compete in the Ski Superpipe at Winter X along with 18-year-old Aaron Blunck, of Crested Butte.
Lyman Currier, a 20-year-old from Boulder, also will enter the Ski Superpipe event.
Eighteen-year-old Arielle Gold, of Steamboat Springs, will ride in the Snowboard Superpipe contest.
Colorado snowmobiler Chris Burandt, a 36-year-old out of Buena Vista, will compete in Snowmobile Hillcross and Snowmobile Long Jump.
Eric Willett, of Breckenridge, will compete in two events — Snowboard Big Air and Snowboard Slopestyle.
Competition in the 2015 Winter X Games at Buttermilk will begin tonight with the Women’s Ski Superpipe medal event.
Events will continue through Sunday at Buttermilk.
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Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon closed around 9 p.m. Thursday for a flash flood warning.